11 Jan
Online VAT Filing Compulsory

Are you already filing your VAT returns online? If not, then you need to prepare to switch to online filing as this will be compulsory for all VAT registered businesses from 1 April 2012. Don't leave this task until the last minute as it can take a few weeks to receive the unique user ID you need from the Tax Office. You will also have to create a password and set up a system to pay the VAT you owe.

You will no longer be able to pay the VAT due by cheque. You have to pay by electronic means. This includes using a direct debit, bank-transfer such as CHAPS or BACS, a personalised bank giro payment slip paid in at a bank (these need to be ordered in advance), or a debit card or credit card over the internet.

The good news is that Tax Office has now instructed its bank to accept tax payments by the faster payment service. This means the tax or VAT due will take less than a day to clear from your account to the Taxman's bank account. Before relying on this shorter timescale, check whether your bank account is set-up to use the faster payment service and if any money limits apply. Many bank accounts can only pay out up to £10,000 by electronic payments in one day. If your VAT bill exceeds that cap you may have to spread the payment over several days, or talk to your bank about other transfer methods.

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