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HMRC allows input VAT deduction of the tax incurred before the effective date of VAT registration. However, there are certain limitations such as time limits or the prohibition of consuming or selling goods on which VAT was incurred prior to the registration. The UK tax authorities have now clarified certain aspects of these limitations.
UK VAT incurred before a VAT registration can be recovered in the first VAT return following the effective date of registration. For goods, VAT must be incurred within four years from the date of the VAT registration. The condition here is that the goods are not sold or consumed before the registration. In case they are partly disposed, an apportionment is required on the VAT deductible amount. Regarding services, they must have been received less than six months before the date of registration. There is also a limitation excluding services that have been supply onwards before the registration.
The brief published by the UK tax authorities provides further information on the interpretation of ´consumption´ before the VAT registration. You can access the brief here.