The UK Rules
How to Fill in a VAT Return and Submit it to HMRC

VAT Returns: HMRC VAT Return Rules

As a rule, companies must submit a VAT Return every 3 months to HM Revenue and Customs. The quarterly dates for VAT Returns are the 'accounting period' for a business.

VAT RETURNS: Business records for the accounting periods will include:

Note: The company must file and submit a VAT Return even in cases where there is nothing to pay or reclaim.

VAT Return Email Reminder

You can set up an email reminder to let you know when the quarterly return is due. Login to the company online account and follow the link next to 'VAT messages'. Enter the company email address and then select submit.

Submitting Final VAT Return Deadline

Your business must submit a final VAT Return any time you cancel VAT registration. As a rule, you can complete this process online using a Government Gateway account.

What is the final VAT Return deadline if you deregister? HMRC give you two (2) months to submit the final return after deregistering. Account for all outstanding VAT on supplies made and received prior to deregistration on this return.

Different VAT Return rules apply when cancelling the registration through insolvency. You would need to complete the paper version to file a final Vat Return. If you contact HMRC they will send the correct forms to you.

Filling Out HMRC VAT Returns

After filling in the form you can submit a VAT Return online or by postal methods. Extra guidance notes are also available using any of the following. Research more information on the Value Added Tax:

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Note: The VAT Return must include EU sales where applicable. Completing an EC Sales List is part of business tax rules for small businesses in the United Kingdom.

VAT Returns: HMRC VAT Return RulesWorking Out the amount to Claim

Only VAT businesses can claim back the tax from HMRC. The company can reclaim the tax on business related purchases and expenses.

Sometimes a claim will also include personal use for the activity. In this case you need to work out the business element of the item or service.

In simple terms, you can only claim for the business element.

An Example: You buy a computer system and use it 60% for business and 40% for your personal use. In this example the business can only reclaim 60% of the Value Added Tax paid out.

The business must keep all records to support any claims made. They must show the exact amount paid out for the expense or service. But, the company can use electronic or hard copy versions for keeping VAT records.

Note: Different rules apply when charging VAT to charities. As a rule they pay a reduced amount on certain goods and services.

A List of Exceptions

The business cannot reclaim VAT on entertainment expenses or if it uses the Flat Rate Scheme. Exceptions apply for purchases of a qualifying capital asset over the current limit.

Special VAT Return rules apply when calculating how to reclaim VAT amounts for:

Using Estimated Figures

Businesses must ask for permission from HMRC to use estimated figures. But, you must give them a valid reason why accurate figures cannot get entered into a VAT Return.

An example could be if an accountant leaves a company without notice. In some cases that could make it difficult for filing before the VAT Returns deadline.

If HMRC grant permission they will not charge you a penalty. But, only if you meet payment deadlines and make no careless or deliberate errors. As a rule the correct figures must then get filed in the next company VAT Return.

Writing Off Bad Debts for VAT Returns

Sometimes a company decides to write off a bad debt. In this case the amount of VAT paid to HMRC can get reclaimed. As a rule, to qualify for this relief, the debt must:

Add the details to 'Box 4 on the VAT Return' to reclaim the amount. The business must keep all records of the debt.

Any debt that gets paid after you have already claimed relief must get returned to HMRC. Achieve this by adding the amount of the paid debt into 'Box 1' of the next business VAT Return.


How to Send a VAT Return: Explaining the process for submitting VAT returns online to HMRC.
VAT Return Deadlines: How to check HMRC VAT payment dates in an online account.
VAT Assessment: How to send your VAT Return and any payment due immediately.
VAT Interest Rate: Businesses need to pay interest on underpaid or on overpaid VAT.
VAT Online Services: Submit your VAT Return, ESL, RCSL, and EU VAT refund application.
VAT Payment Deadline Calculator: Check the deadlines for a business accounting period.

Filling in a VAT Return: Business Guide for the United Kingdom