Spacer Image
chapter four of six, how to get a business loan (debt)

Submitting your VAT return


Table of contents

Spacer Image

Small business guides > Quick guide to VAT > Submitting your VAT return

Submitting 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 to file and either pay your bill, or get your refund.

Information you will need

You’ll need a record of how much GST you collected on sales, and how much was paid on purchases. You won’t need to submit tax invoices when you lodge your GST return, but you will need to have them on hand. The IRD may ask to see them later.

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 submit their return through their VAT online account. Find out more on this gov.uk 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 the 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.

If you miss your deadline, you may face penalties. Find out more about surcharges and penalties on this gov.uk 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 submitting your return. Make sure they have your bank details.


Chapter 7: Where to next? Tools and guides by Xero

Find more guides to help you understand VAT, along with handy tools to make it easier. Xero has everything you need to conquer VAT.

Read next chapter