Chapter 6

Filing your VAT return

Once you’ve registered for VAT, you’ll need to submit returns online regularly – and square up with HMRC. Here’s how.

A VAT document being scanned onto a computer screen

Information you will need

To file a simple VAT return, you’ll need a record of total sales and VAT collected, plus a record of total purchases and VAT paid. You won’t need to submit tax invoices when you file your return, but you will need to have them on hand. HMRC may ask to see them later.

Methods for submitting VAT

1. Accounting software:

Businesses above the VAT threshold must submit VAT using Making Tax Digital-compliant software. Learn more about making tax digital.

2. Through your VAT online account:

Businesses that have voluntarily registered for VAT can file their return through their VAT online account. Find out more on this page.

VAT due dates

Your due dates will depend on when you registered for VAT and what accounting scheme you use. Most businesses are required to submit every three months. You can get the specific dates from HMRC, by looking it up in your VAT online account.

Paying VAT to HMRC

If you have a VAT bill, you generally get one month and seven days to pay. You can do this via internet banking, debit card, or credit card. But perhaps the easiest way is to set up a direct debit. This allows HMRC to withdraw the VAT you owe directly from your bank account on the due date. You can read more about paying VAT online in our guide.

If you miss your deadline, you may face penalties. Find out more about surcharges and penalties on this page.

Getting a VAT refund

If you paid more VAT than you collected, HMRC will owe you a refund. They aim to pay within 10 days of you filing your return. Make sure they have your bank details.

Disclaimer: Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the provided content.

Guide to VAT

Making a start with VAT? Don’t worry. It’s a little extra admin, but follow our guide and you’ll soon be on top of it.

Download the guide to VAT

Get your small business tax sorted. Fill in your details to get our full VAT guide as a PDF.

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