Paper submissions still possible under new VAT rules

HMRC has reassured farmers that VAT returns may still be submitted on paper following the announcement that the current system was moving online.

Farmers Weekly reported that Making Tax Digital would go live from 1 April 2019 and require businesses operating above the VAT threshold of £85,000 to keep digital records and submit VAT returns through HMRC financial software.

See also: How will HMRC’s radical tax plans affect you?

However, HMRC has confirmed that businesses that currently submit offline returns will be able to continue to do so, as long as they fall under one of the approved exemptions.

Who qualifies for digital VAT return exemptions?

  • Those who object to using computers on religious grounds
  • Those who don’t use the internet because of age, a disability or because of where they live, e.g. no internet access
  • Businesses that are subject to an insolvency procedure – if a Company Voluntary Arrangement exists or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement exists then submitting a return online is optional

“The current provision remains that businesses who currently submit VAT on paper, exempt for reasons outlined [in the box above], can continue to submit on paper,” said a spokesperson for HMRC.

“HMRC will ensure that clear guidance is widely provided and easily accessible for digitally excluded customers about the exemption process and will ensure that a mechanism is provided for an exemption to Making Tax Digital to be easily applied for through non-digital means.”

The HMRC initiative is part of a plan to move all tax submissions online by April 2020 at the earliest, and has already been subject to delays to give businesses more time to adapt to the changes.

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