VAT returns going online only is no April fools

Existing smaller businesses are only off the hook until next year. The government announced before Christmas that it intends to make all businesses e-file their VAT returns from 2011 – one year earlier than expected.
Anita Monteith, from the ICAEW Tax Faculty, commented: “As everybody knows there have been problems with HMRC’s online processes in the past. With online filing of VAT returns becoming compulsory there is going to be a massive demand and one of the biggest problems is to make sure that everyone knows about it. HMRC wrote to all VAT registered businesses last month reminding them of the date they first registered for VAT. This is one of the key pieces of information which they will need to register online. ”
To help the process go smoothly, the ICAEW has six top tips for businesses:

  • You need to register with HMRC for VAT online filing, similar to the self assessment process. Do this now
  • Use your activation pin code as soon as it arrives. It will expire 30 days after it was issued
  • Those businesses which must e-file, must also pay their VAT electronically. They will not be allowed to pay by posting a cheque
  • Keep a paper or electronic copy of your e-filed VAT return. It will be accessible on the HMRC website for only 15 months before it disappears and you may need to refer to it later
  • Print a copy of the electronic confirmation
  • If you have any questions or need advice, speak to a chartered accountant

Further information can be found at