Business owners may think that they can claim back VAT on everything they purchase which has VAT on it, but it may surprise them to know that VAT can't be claimed on certain purchases.


You cannot claim VAT back on the provision of hospitality to customers or suppliers.  Hospitality include the purchase of meals, theatre tickets or entry to sporting events.  However you can claim VAT back if the hospitality is for a client visiting from overseas or for an employee.  

Motor expenses

If a car is purchased or leased by the company for both business and private use only 50% of the VAT charged on the payment can be reclaimed.  If fuel is paid for by the company for both business and private use then a proportion of the VAT on that fuel cannot be claimed.  This is calculated using the fuel scale charge.  If the user of the vehicle keeps mileage records and repays the fuel element of private use this would replace using the scale charge calculation.

Purchases for both business and personal use

If a purchase will be used personally as well as for the business then only the VAT on the business proportion of the cost can be claimed.  The remainder would be Outside the Scope.


If you have a VAT receipt which shows clearly which items are standard rated and which are zero rated then you can claim the VAT, as long as they are for the use of the business and all employees and not for personal yse.  Most food purchases are zero rated but some types of biscuit may be standard rated.  

Staff Event

VAT can be claimed on the costs of a staff event as long as it meets certain criteria.  But VAT cannot be claimed on the costs for any attendees who are not employed by the business.

Expenses paid personally

If the invoice or receipt is not addressed to your business or the business owner then you will not be able to claim VAT on it.