Online VAT returns worth considering

Steve Runnacles of Ensors sets out the benefits of filing VAT returns online

Steve Runnacles of Ensors sets out the benefits of filing VAT returns online

WITH effect from April 1, 2010, if your annual sales exceed �100,000 it will be compulsory for you to file your VAT returns online.

In addition, if you register for VAT on or after this date, you will also be required to file VAT returns online regardless of your turnover.

For businesses who don't meet this turnover threshold it won't be compulsory to file online yet; however, you may find it beneficial to do so and HM Revenue & Customs will welcome your “early adopter” approach.

The benefits of paying and filing VAT online are as follows:

n Currently, if a business pays its VAT liabiliy electronically, it receive an extra seven calendar days, after the date shown on the VAT return, for its VAT return to reach HMRC, for example to November 7 2009 for the September 2009 return.

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n Filing online eliminates the worry of missing a deadline due to postal delays or loss of post. You can be sure that your returns have been successfully submitted as an immediate on-screen acknowledgement, containing a confirmation number and full details of your submission, will appear.

n While preparing your return online automatic calculations and checks are performed to help reduce errors. This means that you are less likely to have your return sent back to you for correction or clarification.

n If paying electronically, whether filing a paper or online return, you will receive an extra seven days from the date on the return for the cleared funds to be received by HMRC. If your payment is due on a weekend or bank holiday funds must be cleared before the seventh day.

n If paying by direct debit you also receive three more banking days, in addition to the seven extra calendar days, before payment of any tax is taken by direct debit from your bank account. This means you can be given an extra five calendar days if a weekend is involved, i.e. until the 12th day of the month.

n If your accounting software is compliant, such as Sage Line 50, you can also submit your return directly from the software using an XML file. Because the information is sent directly from your accounting software, there's much less chance of making mistakes like typing in a figure incorrectly or putting the wrong figure in the wrong box.

It is important that you register for online filing as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute rush as the deadline approaches.

This information is given by way of general guidance only, and no action should be taken solely on the basis of the information contained herein. No liability is accepted by the firm for any actions taken without seeking appropriate professional advice.