Find a friend to file tax online, farmers told

Farmers have been told to find a friend with internet access in order to fill in their VAT returns online.

Under Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs rules, from 1 April businesses with a turnover of more than £100,000 must use the internet to fill in their VAT forms.

The Farmers Union of Wales said the move was “heavy handed” given many farmers did not have computers or broadband.

It suggested farmers should be given an alternative option, but HMRC said people without access to the online forms should ask family or friends to use their computers.

Emyr James, FUW business development manager, said: “They have confirmed the legislation does not provide exemption and there will be no ‘alternative’ method to filing online.

“To fulfil their obligation, HMRC suggest that they could ask family or friends, who have a computer, to offer them internet access or, alternatively, employ the services of an agent who could file the return on their behalf,” he said.

“This is a typically heavy-handed government approach, showing very little appreciation of the true situation for many small-to-medium-sized enterprises.”

Mr James said there was a generation of people who did not grow up with the internet and consideration should be shown towards them.

“There are many farmers for whom the internet remains an unfamiliar skill, whilst there are some who distrust modern communications technology,” he added.

“Also, many parts of rural Wales have no reliable broadband provision at all.”

The FUW said it would provide a service at its county offices were staff will file VAT returns online on members’ behalf.

The paper-based summary should be completed in the normal way and taken to the county office.

“This will complement a similar service already provided by county offices, whereby stock movements are registered with BCMS electronically,” Mr James said.