Submitting your VAT return online increases speed, security and reliability. The use of a computerised accounting package can assist all businesses significantly in submitting their VAT returns online. To ease the VAT online return procedure, it is important to keep all financial records up to date throughout the year. A good accounting computer program should make this really simple. So long as you maintain accurate and meaningful records you should be ready to send off your VAT data at the click of a button.
In order to complete your VAT return online, you must first register to use the VAT online services through the HMRC website. Once you have signed up you will be able to begin the process. Make sure you opt for a computerised accounting package that is compatible with the HMRC VAT online system. There is a list on HMRC’s website of all those programs that are accredited for online filing with them. You should be able to get hold of an accounting package that enables you to send the necessary information directly to HMRC from the accounting program. Prior to submitting the information it is important to undertake a final check on the data being submitted.
The payment of any VAT that is due must also be done electronically. The amount due and the deadline will be displayed on your return. Payment can be made in a variety of ways including by debit/credit card and Direct Debit. It is vital to make a note of the deadline for payment and be aware that this refers to the date on which cleared payment must be with HMRC. Consider and arrange the method of VAT payment in advance in order to ensure the deadline is met.
Whilst the HMRC VAT online services system will keep a copy of your VAT return for 15 months, it is highly recommended that you maintain a physical record of the return. You should make a note of the receipt reference number of your submission and print out all the relevant documentation from your VAT return. File this together with any correspondence from HMRC regarding your return. This will help you to make sure that you remain compliant with UK law which says that you must keep all of your business records for at least six years.
HMRC imposes strict deadlines on VAT returns and it is extremely important to adhere to them. Late submission of VAT returns and the late payment of VAT due is likely to result in penalty charges being applied. A computer accounting program, together with email reminders from HMRC VAT online services, can help you keep track of important dates and deadlines.