As anyone who is registered for VAT already will know, your VAT returns need to be submitted every three months. That’s why it is so important to keep up with your records; you don’t have a whole year in between like you do with your self employed tax accounts.
But if you are getting to the stage where you are about to register for VAT for the first time, you will need to think about how you are going to be sending your returns when you do them. It is much better to think about all this in advance, so you don’t spend valuable time trying to figure out what you should be doing when the time comes. At the moment there are two choices open to you. You can either post your return off, or you can do it all online. A lot of people choose to post theirs – but this can lead to problems on occasion.
The most common risk of course is that your VAT return could get lost in the post. The chances are quite small – but as we all know, things do go missing from time to time. The problem with a VAT return going missing is that it might mean you miss the deadline for submitting it. Even though you did send it, the VAT man won’t have received it – and that means you might end up having to pay a penalty. This is why online submission is safer. You know it gets there, and what’s more it gets there straightaway. There is no delay as it makes its way through the postal system. This does you a favour instantly, because it gives you that little bit of extra time to file your return in each quarterly period. And according to the Business Link website, they also give you an extra week on top of that. It gets to the point where you wonder why anyone would file their returns the old paper way, doesn’t it? And in fact it looks as though that method will soon be a thing of the past anyway. It will soon be the case that you will need to do it online.
While this might cause hiccups for some people initially, in the long run it will surely be easier for both those who are submitting them, and those who are receiving and processing them at the other end. You can also get a range of software programs that will help you to put your VAT return together. If you use one of these it is going to be faster to transfer the required information to your online submission than it would be to fill in a paper one. As more and more businesses advance and use more computerised ways of doing things, it seems as if VAT is going to go the same way sooner or later. The date by which some businesses will need to submit their VAT returns online is 2010 – so be prepared for it.