Tag Archive | "vat returns"

HMRC takes pity on contractor VAT returns by relaxing rules

If I’ve said once I’ve said it a dozen times: sometimes Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs comes through for contractors in a major and much appreciated way.

Apparently HMRC will be changing its VAT return policies especially for contractors and freelancers that are unable to file returns over the internet. This is a major departure from their online-only policy and is an offshoot of a tax tribunal that took place last October where three individuals said that they had physical limitations such as disabilities that precluded them from learning an online-only return system. The judge at the tribunal agreed that the online-only rules were too restrictive; what this means for the rest of us is that any company of any stripe – and that includes freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed Brits – will be able to do it over the phone or even file a paper VAT return once more.

This is of course great news for anyone who has either an inability to use an online VAT return filing system or simply one who doesn’t trust computers any farther than they can be thrown. And let’s be honest – with the weight and dimensions of the newest laptop computers, you can’t toss one of those remarkably far unless you wind up like an Olympic discus thrower. Personally I think this is a great victory for those of us who feel that the taxman has gotten a bit big for its britches, especially when it comes to the online-only filing. It hasn’t been that long since the whole Real Time Information filing requirements for PAYE went live, and we all know how that’s been going over (hint: much the same way a lead balloon would go over). HMRC has already provided leniency for many firms when it comes to RTI – especially those who can’t handle the new electronic payroll transmission requirements – so I don’t see how the VAT return filing problem is much different.

Whatever the result – and regardless of whether it was court-ordered by a judge or if it came down from the tax authority directly – I’m chuffed to bits that everyday taxpayers like you and me are getting some support from HMRC. Let’s hope things keep going in this vein and that it doesn’t end up reversing itself and trending back towards kicking taxpayers in the bollocks and then rifling through their wallets.

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Some HMRC online services will be unavailable this weekend

Contractor accountants are warned that HMRC will be carrying out upgrade work to its website this weekend.

The Revenue website was down at the beginning of last month to enable essential maintenance and upgrade work. However, it now appears that thus work was more complicated than expected.

Luckily the work will not affect employers who need to submit their payroll end of year returns before the May 19 deadline. Corporation tax, self-assessment and CIS will not be affected either, but it will not be possible to register for HMRC’s online VAT service while the upgrade work is taking place.

HMRC likes to give taxpayers as much notice as possible of any proposed disruption to its services.

Although the VAT online registration service will be offline from 16:00 on Saturday until 01:00 on Sunday morning, businesses will still be able to file their VAT returns. Anyone who wants to enrol for VAT Online during the downtime will be able to do so through the Government Gateway. http://www.gateway.gov.uk/

The VAT on e-services page will also be unavailable for 10 minutes while the upgrade takes place. HMRC has not revealed which ten minutes.

The other services that will be affected are obscure ones such as Electronic Binding Tariff Information and the Rebated Oils Enquiry Service.

It’s obviously important for HMRC to keep it’s services up-to-date and weekends are probably the most sensible time to do upgrades and maintenance. Let’s hope that everything goes to plan and the work doesn’t cause widespread disruption.

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HMRC gets something right at last!

It’s unusual for anybody to praise HMRC these days, but contractor accountants may be interested to learn that the Chartered Institute of Taxation recently did exactly that.

Last year the Revenue took down its online filing system at the same time as the deadline for filing April’s VAT returns became due. This caused wide scale pandemonium and the CIoT was quick to express its concerns.

This year, HMRC has decided to take the filing system down between the 8th and 11th of April – directly after the 7th of April deadline.

Simon Newark, the vice-chairman of the VAT and Indirect Taxes Sub-Committee at the CIoT, said the Institute congratulated the Revenue on making a sensible decision this year. Along with other professional bodies, the CIoT has been putting concerted pressure on HMRC to rethink when it upgrades its systems.

He went on to explain that the Revenue’s complex systems need a certain amount of downtime when upgrades are being implemented but this needs to be timed so as not to adversely affect businesses that are trying to file their returns. Providing companies file their February VAT return online by the 7th of April, they should not be affected by the upgrade downtime.

He also suggested that HMRC might want to follow the lead of Companies House and send email notifications of future downtimes so that businesses can plan in advance.

Last year was the first time when businesses were penalised for late filing and the downtime caused huge problems for a lot of firms and advisers. The Revenue scheduled downtime for the 7th of March this year and some businesses were annoyed that HMRC gave very little advance notice of this.

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File your April VAT return early, warns HMRC

Contractor accountants and small business owners should be aware that paper VAT returns due at the end of April, need to be filed early.

Paper VAT returns are generally filed on the final working day of a month. But this year, the 30th of April falls on a Saturday and on the 29th we have a bank holiday to celebrate the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

HMRC has warned that cheque payments must also be cleared to the Revenue’s bank account by the 28th and reminds people that a cheque must be banked three days in advance if it is to get through the clearing system in time.

As from April 2012, virtually all UK businesses that are VAT registered will be required to file their returns online and make their payments electronically. HMRC has urged firms that still file paper returns to prepare for the change and register for online filing well in advance of the switch.

Businesses that are concerned about electronic filing would be best advised to look to their accountant for help and advice.

Meanwhile, HMRC is looking into ways to speed up the process for dealing with new VAT registrations. The Revenue currently has a target of processing 70% of applications within ten days. In January this year, HMRC beat this target and checked 79.9% of all applications within the timeframe. However, the government department concedes that it takes longer than it should to conduct in-depth checks.

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