From 1st April 2012, virtually all businesses must now file their VAT returns online and pay their VAT electronically. The compulsory switch is for all accounting periods starting on or after 1st April 2012.
Only newly registered businesses and those with turnovers exceeding £100,000 were previously compelled to lodge their VAT returns online together with electronic payment of VAT due. Those businesses who were VAT registered before 1st April 2010 and have a VAT exclusive turnover of less than £100,000 must also fall in line and switch to electronic filing, if they are not already doing so. HMRC state however that the majority of businesses file online anyway. Paper VAT returns will now become a thing of the past.
Those businesses affected by the changeover should have received a letter from HMRC in February which included a handy step-by-step guide to signing up and submitting returns online. For any business still in the dark, they will need to register and enrol for HMRC's VAT Online Service immediately by visiting the Register for HMRC Online Services page and click 'Register' under the 'New User' section and follow the instructions.
Online filing does have a number of advantages over paper filing, namely:
Further help and advice is available by either downloading HMRC's Online Return Help (PDF) or calling the VAT Online Helpdesk on 0845 010 8500 between the hours of 08:00 – 16:00, Monday – Friday.