A Guide to Making Tax Digital for VAT

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is the government's scheme that makes online tax filing and payment ad digital record keeping mandatory. Whilst all types of business related tax will be included in the scheme, only Making Tax Digital for VAT has so far been given a roll-out date.

The government's aim with MTD is to reduce tax errors and generate over £600 million in additional revenue. There are however benefits for businesses says the government, namely more straightforward record-keeping.

The MTD for VAT pilot programme is already in operation. Having started in October, it is open to any business that wishes to take part. The pilot will come to a close on 1 April 2019, at which point MTD for VAT will become mandatory for all VAT-eligible businesses, other than a minority which have had their roll-out date deferred until October 2019.

Let's take a look at what will be involved for businesses once the official MTD for VAT roll-out date kicks in.

What do I have to do under MTD for VAT?

If you are a VAT registered business with a Taxable turnover above the VAT threshold, then you will need to keep and preserve your VAT records digitally and send your VAT returns to HMRC using MTD-compatible software.

To see what records you will need to keep digitally, take a look at VAT Notice 700/22.

When do I need to start following MTD rules?

Your start date will vary depending on your individual VAT period. You must start following MTD for VAT rules from the first day of your first VAT period that starts on or after 1 April 2019. After this date you will no longer be able to submit a paper based VAT return, or manually complete a VAT return online.

Your current VAT filing deadlines will not alter once MTD for VAT is introduced.

What should I do to prepare for MTD for VAT?

If you are not already using accounting software then you should make the switch as soon as possible. Bear in mind that by 2020, virtually all business taxes will fall under MTD rules, and without accounting software you will not be in a position to comply.

Remember that MTD for VAT is not just about online filing of VAT returns; it is also about maintaining digital VAT records.

If you are considering your options concerning accounting software, our guide to keeping your books in line should prove helpful.

If you are in any doubt as to your responsibilities concerning Making Tax Digital for VAT you should not hesitate to discuss the matter with your bookkeepers or accountant.

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