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How much do you charge for simple vat return?

How much do you charge for simple vat return?

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A client of mine, , has registered for vat and so far I have completed 2 vat returns.
Each return 7 or so sales invoices 20 or so purchase invoices, vat on fuel etc, also using cash system so matching takes time, especially on the output side.
I have always had a " standard" charge of £70 (no vat) for vat returns, and, if they are very simple, I have taken this into account when charging for the end of year returns etc.
When I complete someone's vat return I also do not charge for any extra book keeping.
So, this client pays £220 for year end accounts and tax return plus £280 per annum for vat.
They have now said, quite vehemently that, the £70 is too much. I have never had this complaint before, so, am interested in hearing what other people charge for this service, because if my charges are out of kilter, then I would prefer to know.
Many thanks for anyone who takes the time to comment

Replies (20)

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By The Innkeeper
01st May 2013 17:46


depends on where you are based.

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By muppet1903
01st May 2013 18:20

In sheffield

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01st May 2013 18:59

Complaining about £70?

They're 'aving a giraffe. I wouldn't look at a VAT return for less than twice that

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By blok
01st May 2013 19:00


There is no such thing as a simple vat return !

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By Kingsgrove
01st May 2013 19:07

Doesn't sound too much

How long realisitically does it take? 

Write up invoices/bank statements, allowing for cash accounting which presumably is beneficial to him in that he defers his VAT liability doesn't sound high. 

Allowing for some admin work in sending the VAT return, explaining why it's the answer it is, filing the return, £70 isn't much assuming everything is there and can be done in one go!

Do you have overheads?




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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
01st May 2013 19:11

£500 seems to cheap for the lot
If you bookkeeping, accounts, VAT and year end Tax Returns for £500 he is getting a cracking deal . I would be looking for a rio at least to do that.

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By levelheaded1903
01st May 2013 19:18

@[email protected]
No, I don't have rent etc, just the usual software, training, insurance etc.
@ blok, you are right, there is more to vat returns that's clients think, perhaps they can do it themselves and make a hash, then what cost to them to put it right!
Thanks to all of you for your time, I think I need part company with this client, if they think they are paying way too much, there is not much room for manoeuvre and more than anything, I don't like to be accused of ripping someone off

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By Old John
01st May 2013 19:22

What else can you get for £10 a week?

He's getting his bookkeeping done, his VAT done, his accounts prepared, and his tax sorted - for £10 a week.  That's probably less than he pays for his cable TV. Sounds way too cheap to me.

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By sparkler
01st May 2013 20:56

Perhaps change the split of the fees?

I agree that the fee in total seems too cheap.  For book-keeping, accounts, tax return, VAT etc you could probably charge double what you are currently charging and it would still be a reasonable "all inclusive" fee.

But as a proportion of the cost, the VAT element seems high.  He is paying more for VAT returns than for his company accounts, which doesn't sound right.  Perhaps you should change the split of the fee so that a higher proportion goes to accounts/tax return and a lower proportion to VAT returns.

You could respond by saying that you have looked into the figures and that although you are able to reduce the VAT cost to (say) £240, you need to increase the company accounts / tax return cost to £260 as this better reflects the split of the work.


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By ShirleyM
01st May 2013 21:15

It's not quite clear what you are charging £70 for

Are you saying you charge for VAT returns, but do the necessary bookkeeping for free?

In my experience, clients rarely appreciate anything that they conceive as free, and it could cause future problems with any clients who deregister for VAT, as they will still expect 'free' bookkeeping.

Maybe you should review the breakdown of your fees, but overall it sounds like this guy wants gold plated service for 'brass tack' fees.

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By thacca
02nd May 2013 07:55

That's not expensive

in fact, as others have said, it's cheap.

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By levelheaded1903
01st May 2013 22:46

Yes, I see your point about the book keeping element being perceived as free, I suppose I was trying to package everything up, the thought being that it would be easier for clients to understand, but perhaps I have got this wrong, and going forward I will pay more attention to splitting quote for work out, so that the client can see what they are paying for each constituent part, so many thanks

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
01st May 2013 22:49

Absolute minimum

£150 plus vat.


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By refs8
01st May 2013 22:58

How many hours?

I would be interested how many hours you are taking on the work roughly.

We have a client who is disc jockey in the clubs vat been charged at £60 per quarter and accounts £300. I reckon about 10 hours for vat return and 8 hours for accounts we make around £30 per hour. Which is low but happy with.

We tend cost jobs out where we can.

Sounds like he is getting a good deal. Before losing client sit down with and explain it to him, worst case costs you some time - likelihood he needs you more than you need him, best case you keep him and a happier client.

All about balance for me and good luck 


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By cfield
01st May 2013 23:23

Double your rates

Hi Carolyn, those fees sound incredibly low for the amount of work involved. Assuming your figures are quarterly, he must have around 30 sales invoices a year and close on 300 purchases. That's a fair bit of work I reckon.

I would charge at least double that, as sole trader accounts and tax return alone should be a minimum of £400 (plus VAT) in my opinion, and probably nearer £600 for a business of that size.

Are you using a software package or spreadsheets to do his accounts? If you're using software, it should do the VAT return in seconds if all the items are coded properly, and it can be set to cash accounting too so no matching required. No need to keep your VAT fees down just for that reason though.

I would charge £100 per quarter minimum for that number of transactions, on top of the £600 above. That would make it a round thousand per year, which sounds about right to me.

Maybe you could sweeten the pill by doing some premium work such as calculating whether he would be better off on the flat rate scheme. If you can show him a saving there, he might be more amenable to a hike in your fee.

You might also be able to show him a big tax saving by incorporating as a limited company, although quite a few factors to consider first before going down that road.


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By Flash Gordon
02nd May 2013 08:38

He's complaining?!

Seriously? He's complaining?! He gets year end accounts, tax return, bookkeeping & vat returns for £500 and he thinks that's steep? Wow. Send him to me for a chat about fees and pretty soon he'll be running back to you thanking you for being sooooooo cheap!

£500 might get him accounts & tax from me, might (though with that attitude unlikely). If he wants bookkeeping and vat then he's paying double that and no questions, no complaints, no whining about fees, oh and he pays upfront. 

Some people won't value anyone else's work and you're better off rid (unless you're operating a charity). I work on the basis these days that if they want to reduce the fees then they'll be getting less in return. Or a letter of disengagement. The nice clients get freebies just because they're nice, the not so nice ones can pay or go elsewhere.

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By non-sequitor
02nd May 2013 10:05

Cheap at double the price.

For a "bog standard" VAT and bank write-up of say 20 transactions per month - taking around 2.5 hours in total including the emailing/back and forth, and VAT submission - I charge £150/quarter as an absolute minimum.

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Replying to Kent accountant:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
02nd May 2013 11:00


To paraphrase Bernie Cornfeld: "Do you seriously want to be poor?".

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By B Roberts
02nd May 2013 11:46

I read a comment

on this site the other day (I can't remember who from) and they said that pitching for work based purely on price is a race to the bottom.

If you reduce your prices, then this is potentially the thin end of the wedge - for both this client and others - and you could find yourself working harder for less.

Ps - how does this (and other) client pay their fees ? - make sure that they are fully paid up before you submit the vat returns / accounts etc. otherwise you may join the growing list of posts about trying to recover fees from clients who have found another accountant .....



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By levelheaded1903
02nd May 2013 17:29

To everyone who has taken the time to reply, I have contacted the client and explained that the fees cannot be reduced, and after all of this feedback I am going to spend some time reviewing my fees, no wonder I've never got any money!
Could be that this was exactly what I needed, ,,, watch this space,,,

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