Despite the absence of a formal announcement so far, accountants have been informed by government officials that all businesses will be required to file their VAT returns online as of 1st April 2012.

Larger businesses with annual turnovers of £100,000 or over have already been introduced to the electronic VAT-filing. These firms must submit their returns online by July 31st or they incur a penalty. The only exception to this is individuals who have a “conscientious objection to using a computer”.

The electronic filing will now be rolled out to businesses who are below the VAT-registration threshold. The CIOT have already stated their belief that the same exception should apply but another should be added – “people who have disabilities that make it difficult, if not impossible, to use a computer.”

The CIOT are already anticipating these forthcoming changes by consulting and informing small businesses about the new process. They have been particularly dedicated to offering their advice to those small businesses who do not employ the services of an accountant. However, they are also looking for information from these individuals. They want to know about any difficulties which these taxpayers experience when using the electronic system.

CIOT have set up a dedicated email account and they are asking taxpayers to answer questions such as: “Have any businesses had to appoint agents where they had not done so before because the owner/proprietor/partners could not cope with online filing?”

They would hope to share this information with HMRC to improve the service for everyone.

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