HMRC changes stance on online VAT filing

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Rachael Power
Community Correspondent
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Telephone filing for VAT returns can now be approved as an alternative for businesses who can prove to HMRC they cannot file them online. 

In addition paper filing will also be provided as an alternative for businesses who can satisfy the Revenue it's not 'reasonably practicable' for them to file online. 

HMRC published a brief outlining the changes to Regulation 25A of VAT Regulations 1995, following a formal consultation. The changes came into effect from 1 July 2014 but were only announced this week.

The changes were outlined as:

  • Enabling HMRC to approve telephone filing as an alternative method of electronic filing for use by businesses that satisfy HMRC that it is not reasonably practicable for them to use the current method of online...

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29th Jul 2014 17:03

So happy
I'm so happy that us many taxpayers will each have to pay a little bit more to suit the interests of the few who don't want to use E and won't pay an agent to do it for them. What next, an exemption for those who can't get decent broadband?

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By armstrm
30th Jul 2014 11:40

No tax should require an agent to comply with. It should be possible for any individual to comply by themselves. In some areas broadband is so bad that filing online is not an option.

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By Old Greying Accountant
04th Aug 2014 09:58

So much for data security! ...


"Such options include using public libraries, using computers owned by friends and family, using the services of an agent or, if none of these options are appropriate, using the existing Filing by Telephone service," the brief said. 

I think this is good, why should someone be forced to get a computer and internet access just to file a VAT return, or, it they are all the cost should be deductible in ful against any VAT liability.

I am sure all HMRC mail is scanned, so how much extra would it cost to send the scanend VAT return to the VAT system - peanuts I'm sure

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By Eric T
04th Aug 2014 10:13

The law should be such that as long as the taxpayer submits the necessary data, correctly and on time, the METHOD by which the data is communicated to HMRC should not be limited to just one option.


And further to that, the time limits and costs involved should be EXACTLY the same whatever method is chosen.


A taxpayer has a legal obligation to get their information to the tax authorities. The tax authorities should not be insisting that only one way of submitting that data is acceptable. 

Thanks (6)
04th Aug 2014 10:30

Public Libraries

Could this be a "reasonable excuse" to keep open any public library threatened by closure?

Thanks (2)
04th Aug 2014 10:51

Family and Friends

Surely using a friends computer to file business information can't be seen as a resonable method by HMRC? Really!

This being the organisation that still doesn't let you email an indivdual officer or inspector direct.

Thanks (4)
By Old Greying Accountant
04th Aug 2014 23:40

actually ...
... Vat officers do use e-mail, although you can only attach one file at a time when you e-mail information to them!

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04th Aug 2014 11:25

If only..

... they had local offices you could go into and file online .....

Thanks (2)
04th Aug 2014 21:52


We have an elderly farming client who used to do his own VAT return but he does not own a computer and would struggle to learn.  So, when online filing was mandated he asked us to file his VAT return from numbers he prepares.  He would prefer to do his own tax return so I phoned the VAT contact number quoted in the Brief last week.  

The adviser did not appear to be aware of the advice contained in the Brief and told me there was no option other on online filing.  After I had drawn her attention to the Brief she put me on hold to discuss the issue with a colleague.  After a long wait she said that someone from the "filing by telephone service" would be in touch.  I reiterated that the client wanted to file on paper, but she insisted that it had to be someone from the telepone filing section who would ring back to go into this in more detail.

Given neither the client or I have heard anything yet I guess I will need to make a further call.


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By WongR
05th Aug 2014 15:40

Now if this take the ruling for the cases in regards to online VAT filing and apply it to RTI....


Things could get very interesting here.  Could the HMRC system collapse under the strain of providing a non-online alternative to RTI ?  This will simply be a taste of their own medicine, for having enforced and rushed a RTI system that was far too restrictive in too many ways.

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By Old Greying Accountant
05th Aug 2014 16:27

RTI is fine ...

... it is the deadline the problem, if they were just FPS by 5th of month, EPS by 19th all would be pretty much well.

Be interesting how AE impacts on RTI as you have to submit to AE, get confirmation back before you can submit FPS send to client and make payment!

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14th Aug 2014 13:40

OGA - complete agreement

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

... it is the deadline the problem, if they were just FPS by 5th of month, EPS by 19th all would be pretty much well.

Be interesting how AE impacts on RTI as you have to submit to AE, get confirmation back before you can submit FPS send to client and make payment!

I am in complete agreement: would cut down on our admin and reduce the number of resubmissions before of changes notified to us in arrears. RTI is to ease the operation of UC. Self employed have to notify their income in arrears so why not RTI? RTI is a doddle compared to AE.
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By WongR
05th Aug 2014 17:45

But imagine...

It doesn't take a stretch of imagination to see if HMRC does have to provide alternative filing methods for RTI also ?  Especially when fines commence and online filing "is" the only way to file this information with HMRC.?


Someone will then take a case against HMRC and can possibly use the VAT case as a precedence and most likely win.  And when that happens they will have to provide an alternative method to online RTI submission. 


As for AE:

I'm seriously not looking forward to AE it will be chaos.

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06th Aug 2014 10:02

MMMMM filing Vat returns by phone.

Is this the way forward, or going backwards, tricky one this.

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14th Aug 2014 14:00

Can a business be disabled?

Note the wording 'VAT registered businesses who are unable to file their VAT returns for reasons of age, disability or remoteness of location'. Since when has the 'business' filed VAT returns?

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