By Marcus Leach

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is reminding VAT-registered businesses that all VAT returns must be submitted online from this spring, meaning paper returns will soon be a thing of the past.

Currently, only newly-registered businesses and those with turnovers of more than £100,000 have to submit their VAT online, as well as pay electronically. Anyone else can send HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) a paper VAT return, if they wish.

That is changing from April, when all 1.9 million VAT-registered businesses in the UK will have to submit their VAT returns online, and pay electronically, for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2012.

Every VAT-registered trader not already required to submit online will receive a letter from HMRC in February, advising them of the change, and what steps they need to take.

To submit your VAT return online, you need to be registered and enrolled for HMRC’s VAT Online Service. To do this, visit and click “Register” under the “New user” section. Then follow the instructions.

Online filing has a number of benefits, compared to paper filing:

- an automatic acknowledgement that your return has been received;
a handy sum checker; and

- an email alert to remind you when your next online return is due (as, after April, HMRC will stop sending out paper returns to customers who are now required to submit online).

For details on the support available to help you move from paper to online VAT returns, visit

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