Can you claim back VAT without a receipt

Can You Claim Back VAT Without a Receipt?

We’re sure you have better things to do than work through the finer details of whether you can reclaim VAT without a receipt. 

Let us help you… if you are scratching your head about how to claim VAT back if you don’t have an itemised VAT receipt, here’s the short answer:

As a VAT-registered business you can normally reclaim VAT with valid receipts or invoices as evidence of the purchase. However, you can reclaim VAT on specific purchases up to the value of £25 without a receipt provided you have sufficient alternative evidence.

You do have a legal obligation to keep accurate business records to provide evidence to HMRC for VAT returns.

So, in simple terms, you can claim back VAT without a receipt in certain circumstances as described above. But as will all things tax-related, nothing is always completely straight-forward so we’ve developed this handy guide below.

What records must I keep for a VAT claim?

You must keep a record of the following:

  • everything you buy and sell (including zero-rated, reduced and VAT-exempt items)
  • copies of all invoices you issue
  • all invoices you receive (originals or electronic copies)
  • self-billing agreements (where the customer prepares the invoice)
  • the name, address, and VAT number of any self-billing suppliers
  • debit or credit notes
  • any goods you give away or take from stock for your private use

Keep general business records such as bank statements, cash books, cheque stubs, paying-in slips and till rolls.

Handy Hint: Read our guide on keeping receipts for business expenses.

How long do I need to keep VAT receipts?

Whilst you now know whether you need a VAT receipt to claim expenses, the next step is how long those records should be kept for.

You must begin keeping records once you are registered for VAT. You must keep VAT records for at least 6 years (or 10 years if you are using the VAT One Stop Shop (OSS) scheme or used the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) scheme).

Can you claim back VAT on fuel without a receipt?

Any VAT claim for fuel should always be supported with receipts, but that’s not to say you can’t claim back VAT on fuel without a receipt.

For example, if you submitted multiple claims for fuel, but were missing one of the receipts would HMRC exclude it? That’s your consideration to make.

But bear in mind, that when you shop in a petrol station for fuel, it’s not just petrol that could be on a receipt total. It could also include food, drink, magazines, and so on. HMRC will argue that they cannot see what has been purchased.

Based on this, we would advise that you do not claim claim back VAT on fuel without a receipt.

Handy Hint: Here’s our guide to claiming back VAT on mileage expenses.

Do I need a receipt to claim back VAT under £25?

You can reclaim VAT on supplies below £25 without the need for an invoice but this is for a very limited type of supply.

The guidance states:

  • you do not need a VAT invoice for some types of supply if your total expenditure for each taxable supply was £25 or less (including VAT).

You must be sure that the supplier was registered for VAT.

If in doubt, you can check the validity of a VAT number issued by any EU member state.

Alternatively, you can call the VAT general enquiries helpline.

This applies to:

  • phone calls from public or private phones
  • purchases through coin-operated machines
  • car-park charges (on-street parking meters are not subject to VAT)
  • a single or return toll charge paid at the tollbooth

Please see the guidance below:

Don’t leave money on the table by not claiming back VAT 

If you do not claim back VAT without a receipt, you could be leaving money on the table throughout the financial year. You see, there is a common misconception that you need to have a receipt for every purchase to claim back the VAT in your business. 

But this is simply not the case and not knowing what triggers an HMRC investigation leaves most to err on the side of caution and not claim back the VAT they are entitled to.

You are leaving money on the table. Your money, extra profit in the business that you could be paying to yourself. 

It’s your money make sure you claim it. 

Perhaps you have an accountant or bookkeeper who demands to see every receipt and invoice before ‘allowing’ you to claim for each purchase you make but do you need to keep receipts for business expenses?


Can you claim back VAT without a receipt? 

Yes, but in very limited circumstances. 

If we are being practical about this then if you lose the odd receipt and you have previously purchased from that supplier before, you know the VAT number and all the goods are charged at the same rate of VAT then it would be logical to follow the same rules when processing costs into your accounting records.

Remember it is your responsibility as a business owner to keep accurate accounting and tax records.

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