Small Firm Growth and the VAT Threshold Evidence

Does the VAT Threshold Hinder Small Business Growth in the UK?

The recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper, “Small Firm Growth and the VAT Threshold: Evidence for the UK,” explores a critical question for small businesses: does the VAT threshold act as a barrier to growth?

The answer, based on the study’s findings, is somewhat nuanced.

Key Takeaways:

  • Firms experience a slowdown in annual growth of around 1 percentage point when their turnover approaches the VAT threshold.
  • No evidence exists of increased growth after crossing the threshold.
  • This slowdown likely reflects real responses to the additional administrative and compliance burdens of VAT registration, rather than simply a desire to avoid VAT itself.
  • Firms that voluntarily register for VAT below the threshold and those utilizing the Flat-Rate Scheme experience less pronounced slowdowns.


These findings suggest that the current VAT threshold might have unintended consequences for small businesses trying to scale up. The slowdown in growth can potentially impact their ability to invest, hire, and ultimately contribute to the overall economy.

Further Exploration:

The full paper can be accessed through the IMF website: Small Firm Growth and the VAT Threshold Evidence for the UK: [invalid URL removed]

Understanding the impact of the VAT threshold on small businesses is crucial for policymakers considering potential reforms.

Additionally, here are some official resources relevant to this topic:

This blog post aims to provide a concise overview of the research and spark further discussion regarding the VAT threshold’s impact on small business growth in the UK.


Norway VAT Changes in 2024

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