Accountants may want to remind their clients that paper filing of VAT returns is now a thing of the past for virtually all businesses.
For VAT periods beginning on or after the first day of April 2012, HMRC says companies must enrol on the VAT Online Services website. This means that businesses that registered for VAT more than 2 years ago and have a turnover that is less than £100,000 excluding VAT also have to submit their returns and payments electronically.
The Revenue claims that the majority of companies like to deal with their VAT requirements online, but opponents say it goes against the government’s strategy of ‘Digital by Default’. According to the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, HMRC is not providing another option.
The LITRG wants the Revenue to give certain groups the option to file all their business taxes on paper if they so desire. However, this should only apply to specific groups such as the elderly, those who do not have a computer or live in an Internet black spot and those with disabilities who find it difficult to use a computer.
HMRC has acknowledged that some people have religious reasons for not filing online, but some might be concerned about divulging their personal details when using a public computer.
Robin Williamson, one of the LITRG directors, explained that HMRC might allow people to file over the phone if they have genuine difficulties but this option will not be available in the evening or at weekends.