VAT chargeable on all non-refundable deposits

HMRC has confirmed a new policy that VAT will remain due on a deposit, even if the customer does not use the goods or services for which it was paid – this comes into effect from March 1 2019. This change will affect the hospitality industry significantly (but it will also apply to other businesses), which will soon be unable to recover VAT charged on cancelations or ‘no show’ charges.

Here’s an example:

A hotel room is booked on 4 January 2019 for a one night stay on 17 March 2019. The price is £100 plus £20 VAT. The hotel takes payment at the time of booking. The customer has no entitlement to a refund in the event of them cancelling or by not using the room.

The hotel must account for the VAT when the payment is first made.

If the customer cancels the booking before 1 March 2019, the hotel may make an adjustment and treat the £20 VAT as outside the scope of VAT.

If the customer cancels on or after 1 March 2019 or does not use the room, the hotel cannot adjust the £20 VAT as the new policy will apply.
So if you are within the hotel, restaurant and leisure sector, or any other business that charges non-refundable deposits you should take action by:
•    Reviewing your current VAT treatment of deposits and checking your terms and conditions on cancellations/no shows to determine whether you will be affected by HMRC’s new policy
•    Changing your VAT accounting procedures from 1 March 2019.
 

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