If you’re in business, the VAT Margin Scheme can be a smart move for you. It gives you a tax advantage by figuring out VAT based on how much profit you make – using a rate of 16.67%. It’s designed for things like second-hand goods, art, and antiques, making the tax stuff clearer. But remember, it doesn’t cover goods bought with VAT or precious items.

What’s cool about this approach is that it simplifies the VAT calculation process. Instead of looking at the whole selling price, it zeroes in on the profit difference. This makes it a must-have tool for businesses, helping you optimize your finances and ensuring things are clear and efficient in VAT transactions.

To really make the most of it and handle VAT rules like a pro, we will dive deeper into how it works.

What Items are Eligible for VAT Margin Scheme and What’s Not?

  • Second-hand Goods

Second-hand goods refer to items that have been previously owned or used. Examples of these include pre-owned electronics, vintage clothing, and used furniture.

  • Works of Art

Works of art are defined as creative and expressive pieces that encompass paintings, sculptures, and other artistic creations. Examples of these can be paintings by renowned artists, sculptures, and unique art installations.

  • Antiques

Antiques are objects that hold historical or cultural significance due to their age, craftsmanship, or rarity. Examples of antiques include vintage furniture, ancient artifacts, and historical memorabilia.

  • Collectors’ Items

Antiques are objects that hold historical or cultural significance due to their age, craftsmanship, or rarity. Examples of antiques include vintage furniture, ancient artifacts, and historical memorabilia.

Items Excluded from the VAT Margin Scheme

  • Items Purchased with VAT

Items purchased with VAT refer to any products initially bought with Value Added Tax included in the purchase price. Examples of these items are new electronic devices, recently manufactured furniture, or modern clothing.

  • Precious Metals

Precious metals are valuable metallic elements, including gold, silver, and platinum. Notable examples of these metals are gold bars, silver coins, and platinum jewelry.

  • Investment Gold

Investment gold refers specifically to gold acquired for the purpose of investment rather than for practical or decorative use. An example of this would be gold bullion purchased primarily for its potential investment value rather than for its aesthetic appeal.

  • Precious Stones

Precious stones are gemstones recognized for their high value and rarity. This category includes stones such as diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. Common examples of items showcasing these gemstones are diamond rings, ruby necklaces, or emerald earrings.

Example: Selling a Second-Hand Collectible

Imagine you purchase a vintage collector’s item—a rare comic book—for £300. Later, you decide to sell it for £500. By employing the VAT Margin Scheme, you calculate the VAT on the profit margin.

  1. Purchase Price: £300 (what you paid for the comic book)
  2. Selling Price: £500 (what you sell the comic book for)
  3. Profit Margin: £500 – £300 = £200

Now, applying the 16.67% VAT rate on this profit margin:

  • VAT Calculation: £200 × 16.67% = £33.34

So, using the VAT Margin Scheme, you would pay £33.34 in VAT. This method simplifies the VAT calculation, as it is based on the profit made from the sale rather than the entire selling price. It’s an effective way to manage VAT for businesses dealing in second-hand collectibles and similar items.

Exceptions in Margin Scheme Calculation:

In your calculations for the margin scheme, you don’t include certain things. These are:

  • Business Overheads: These are the general costs of running your business, like rent for your shop or office, utility bills, etc.
  • Repairs: If you had to fix or improve the item before selling it, those costs are not part of the margin scheme calculation.
  • Parts or Accessories: Any additional things you added to the item for selling, like a new battery for a used phone, are not considered in the margin scheme.

Margin schemes offer a simpler way to handle VAT for specific items, concentrating on the profit aspect. Yet, it’s important to note that certain costs, such as business overheads and repairs, require adherence to the standard VAT rules, with separate claims for these expenses.

Remember, HMRC is there to assist businesses and offer guidance on tax-related matters. Seeking advice proactively can help avoid potential problems and ensure your business operates within the bounds of legal and regulatory frameworks.

10 Steps to Start Using the VAT Margin Scheme

  1. Identify Eligible Goods

Determine if the goods you sell fall within the categories suitable for the VAT Margin Scheme, such as second-hand goods, works of art, antiques, or collectors’ items.

  • Ensure Exclusions

Confirm that the items you plan to sell under the scheme do not fall under the excluded categories, including goods purchased with VAT, precious metals, investment gold, and precious stones.

  • Accounting System Preparation

Adjust your accounting system to accommodate the VAT Margin Scheme. Ensure it accurately calculates VAT based on the profit margin rather than the full selling price.

  • VAT Rate Understanding

Familiarize yourself with the fixed VAT rate of 16.67% (one-sixth) applicable to the profit margin. This will be the basis for your VAT calculations.

  • Documentation

Keep detailed records of your eligible goods transactions, noting the purchase prices, selling prices, and profit margins. Proper documentation is crucial for accurate VAT reporting.

  • VAT Invoice Compliance

Ensure that your invoices clearly state that the transaction is being conducted under the VAT Margin Scheme. This transparency helps in compliance and facilitates smoother interactions with tax authorities.

  • Educate Staff

If you have employees involved in sales or financial management, educate them about the VAT Margin Scheme to ensure consistent and accurate implementation across your business.

  • Professional Advice

Consider seeking professional advice from accountants or tax consultants familiar with VAT regulations. They can provide specific guidance tailored to your business, ensuring compliance and optimization.

  • Submit Accurate VAT Returns

When submitting VAT returns, accurately report the VAT based on the profit margins. Double-check calculations to avoid discrepancies and potential issues with tax authorities.

  1. Regular Review

Periodically review your transactions to ensure ongoing compliance with VAT regulations. This is particularly important as your business evolves, and your product offerings may change.

By following these steps, you can smoothly integrate the VAT Margin Scheme into your business operations, taking advantage of its benefits for specific categories of goods. Always stay informed about any updates or changes in VAT regulations to adapt your practices accordingly.

Exceptions to the Rule: Key Insights into the VAT Margin Scheme

Navigating the VAT Margin Scheme involves recognizing exceptions tailored to specific goods and scenarios. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Different Rules for Specific Goods:

  • For items such as second-hand vehicles, horses, ponies, houseboats, and caravans, separate regulations are in place when selling them.
  • For items that have been pawned, there are special considerations to take into account due to their involvement in pawn transactions.
  • For high-volume, low-price items, it’s advisable to use the Global Accounting Scheme, which is a simplified version of the VAT Margin Scheme.

Special Considerations for Certain Entities:

  • Auctioneers have unique rules that specifically apply to businesses operating within that capacity.
  • Agents are subject to distinct guidelines when they are facilitating transactions.
  • If you are buying and selling goods in Northern Ireland or within EU transactions, be aware that different regulations apply.

Importing Goods:

  • When importing works of art, collectors’ items, or antiques into Great Britain or Northern Ireland from locations outside the UK, specific regulations apply.
  • Additionally, when selling second-hand vehicles in Northern Ireland that were originally purchased in Great Britain, there are distinct guidelines to follow.

When a Margin Scheme Cannot Be Used:

  • If you’re buying goods in Great Britain and selling them in Northern Ireland, the margin scheme generally cannot be used, with exceptions for works of art, collectors’ items, antiques, or second-hand vehicles.
  • For the import of goods into the UK that aren’t works of art, collectors’ items, or antiques, the standard VAT rules will apply.
  • Furthermore, when selling goods that have been imported into EU member states, particularly those collected on your behalf, the margin scheme might not be applicable.

Imported Works of Art, Antiques, and Collectors’ Items:

When importing such items into Great Britain from locations outside the UK, or into Northern Ireland from areas outside the EU, a reduced rate of import VAT may apply. Additionally, there are specific considerations to be aware of for goods held under Temporary Admission, which are frequently items awaiting auction.

Purchase Price Considerations:

When dealing with overseas sellers, there’s an opportunity to import works of art, antiques, or collectors’ items at a reduced rate of 5%. For purchases of works of art directly from the creator or their heirs, special rules are in effect, one of which includes not being able to reclaim the VAT charged by the supplier.

Exporting Goods:

When exporting goods outside the UK, there are conditions and specific time limits to be met for the goods to qualify for zero rating. Additionally, if you’re selling items through an auctioneer or a dealer acting as an agent, special considerations come into play.

Auctioneers Selling Exported Goods:

When operating under the Auctioneers’ Scheme, there are specific conditions that must be met for zero rating to apply. However, the services provided by auctioneers are typically subject to standard-rated VAT. Ensuring you have proof of export is essential to qualify for zero rating.

When you’re using the VAT Margin Scheme in your business, it’s really important for you to understand these exceptions. This helps make sure you’re following the specific rules and getting your tax strategy just right for different goods and transactions.

Maintaining Proper Records under the VAT Margin Scheme

When you’re working with the VAT Margin Scheme, keeping good records is super important. Make sure you’ve got your standard VAT records in order, and it’s also a good idea to keep a detailed stockbook.

Stockbook Requirements:

For every item you sell under the margin scheme, it’s essential to keep a stockbook that includes:

  • Stock number in numerical order.
  • Date of purchase and sale.
  • Purchase invoice details (unless self-issued).
  • Selling price or disposal method.
  • Names of the seller and buyer.
  • Item description.
  • Margin on sale (sales price less purchase price).
  • VAT due (16.67% or one-sixth).

Record Duration:

Remember to keep your VAT records for a period of six years. If you’ve purchased stock more than six years ago under the margin scheme, hold onto those records until the item is sold.

Invoicing Requirements:

  • When dealing with the VAT Margin Scheme, make sure your invoices meet specific criteria different from standard VAT invoices.
  • For purchases, the seller’s invoice needs to include important details like the date, names, and a unique stockbook number.
  • When selling under the margin scheme, your buyer’s invoice should have crucial information such as the date, names, stockbook number, and the total price (with VAT not shown separately).
  • Be clear on the invoice about the category of the item, whether it falls under ‘margin scheme – second-hand goods,’ ‘margin scheme – works of art,’ or ‘margin scheme – collectors’ items and antiques.’

Understanding and adhering to this record-keeping and invoicing guidelines are imperative for a seamless operation within the VAT Margin Scheme. Special rules apply to imports and exports outside the UK, warranting further exploration for compliance.

VAT Margin Scheme: Special Regulations

VAT Margin Scheme Rules for International Trade

When you’re involved in international trade using the VAT Margin Scheme, it’s crucial to focus on detailed documentation, accurate item classification, and consistent margin calculations. Following specific regulations for invoices, ensuring customs compliance, and seeking professional advice are key steps to ensure seamless cross-border transactions. These practices help you navigate through the complexities of different VAT rules in various regions.

How to Report VAT Margin Scheme Sales on Your Return

When dealing with the VAT Margin Scheme, it’s crucial for you to report the relevant transactions on your VAT return. Here’s a simplified breakdown tailored for you:

  • Box 1: Your Output Tax

Include the VAT you owe on eligible goods you’ve sold during your return period.

  • Box 6: Your Selling Price

Record the total selling price of eligible goods you’ve sold in the period, subtracting the VAT due on the profit margin.

  • Box 7: Your Purchase Price

Include the complete purchase price of eligible goods you’ve bought during the period. Remember, for purchases and sales made under the margin scheme, you don’t need to report them in boxes 8 and 9 of your VAT return. This process ensures accurate reporting and compliance without unnecessary duplication in your return.


The VAT Margin Scheme allows businesses to tax only the profit made from certain items like second-hand goods, art, antiques, and collector’s items. However, it excludes items like precious metals, investment gold, and any goods where VAT was initially charged.

Key Takeaways:

  1. VAT is applied at 16.67% on the profit margin.
  2. Ensure proper record-keeping and meet scheme requirements.
  3. Some items, like second-hand vehicles and high-volume goods, have specific rules.
  4. Contact HMRC for clarification on eligible items.

If this blog piqued your interest, delve deeper with our other blogs on Accounting, Tax and Auditing!

Considering an upgrade in your VAT management approach? We’re here to guide you. Contact us for specialized VAT consultancy services and discover how the right expertise can streamline and enhance your VAT processes. Reach out today to begin your journey!


• Who uses VAT margin scheme?

Businesses selling second-hand goods, antiques, art, and collectors’ items typically use the VAT margin scheme.

• What is the advantage of the VAT margin scheme?

The VAT margin scheme taxes the profit margin, not the full sale price, potentially reducing tax liabilities.

• Does VAT reduce profit?

Yes, VAT can reduce profit when it’s a cost not passed on to customers or if not reclaimed on taxable supplies.