The mandatory electronic filing and paying of VAT returns for VAT periods starting after 31 March 2010 has been introduced for all new businesses and for businesses with a turnover greater than £100,000. All other businesses with a turnover of less than £100,000 will have to file electronically from 2012.
As a transitional period, businesses will be allowed 3 further paper returns but any subsequent paper return will attract a penalty. HMRC is putting in place systems that will allow taxpayers to submit on-line at local VAT offices and most Libraries. For those who cannot use these methods (lack of a computer, not computer literate or not located anywhere where they could use a computer i.e. no broadband) some form of submission by phone is being considered. Those who cannot comply are asked to pay an agent to submit the return or enlist the help of a family member.
What Should I Do?
Before you can submit your VAT Return on-line, you must have registered and enrolled for the VAT online service through the Government gateway. Once you've enrolled, you'll be able to submit your VAT Return straightaway if one is due.
During the registration process you'll be able to enroll for various services, including VAT Online, which you can use to file a VAT Return online.
What Information Should I Have at the Ready?
To enroll for VAT On-line, you will need the following five pieces of information about your business:
1. your VAT registration number
2. the postcode of your principal place of business
3. your effective date of registration for VAT
4. the final month of the last VAT Return you submitted
5. the 'Box 5' figure from the last VAT Return you submitted
You will be able to find the first three pieces of information on your VAT4 (Certificate of Registration) and the fourth and fifth on the last VAT Return you submitted.
If you have recently registered for VAT and have not yet submitted a return you will need to select N/A for the 'final month of last VAT return submitted' and enter 0 (zero) for the 'Box 5' figure on last VAT Return submitted.
A copy of any VAT Returns you've submitted online since 23 November 2009 will be automatically saved on your VAT Online services account for a period of 15 months after submission.
Once you have submitted your return to HMRC you will get an on-screen unique submission receipt reference number. It's a good idea to save or print a copy of this on-screen confirmation as you will only receive an e-mail confirmation of receipt if you’ve registered your email address.