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VAT for new business sole trader?

Hi there,

I recently started my graphic design business as a sole trader. Should i be VAT registered? I found that most printers that i use charge VAT does this mean im losing out? I thought that you had to be registered if your earning a certain amount (£60,000 i think it was) but im nowhere near that figure for my first year.

Stationery Direct

Staff member
If you're not VAT registered and earning below the threshold figure, can you still claim the VAT back from receipts etc??
Nope, you have to be VAT registered to claim back VAT.

If you are not VAT registered and your printer is charging you VAT then this is something that you have to pay, you cannot claim this back, so for example you buy some business cards from your printer at £100+vat (£115), you want a £20 mark-up so you sell to your client for £135. You cannot charge them VAT and neither you or them can claim back any VAT that you paid.

If you were VAT registered you would be able to claim back the £15 VAT you paid to your printer and you would charge your client £120+vat (£138), however, this time your client can claim back the £18 VAT (if they are VAT registered)...so better for them.

Hope that helps and makes sense.
Unique Tax reference number?

Ive registered as a sole trader and i was wondering if im supposed to use my unique tax reference number as proof of business registration, a bit like businesses who are a limited company and have it written at the bottom of their letterheads or invoices ie VAT reg No: 123 4566 56 Company Reg No: 12345678. Instead on Company reg, do i put Reg and my Unique tax ref?

Stationery Direct

Staff member
No you don't need to display that information at all as a sole trader, just a company number if you are LTD and your vat number if you are vat registered.