When are VAT returns due?

As a small business owner, sole trader or freelancer, it goes without saying that you have a wide range of responsibilities. When it comes to finances, one of these essential responsibilities is to know when VAT returns are due and understand how they work.

However, you don’t have to do this alone - at Atkinsons Accountants, we can help you to meet all your financial deadlines and make sure your business is always compliant.

Our team of qualified accountants is here to help you through every step of the VAT returns process - throughout Brighton, Hove, New Maiden, East Sussex, Haywards Heath, and the surrounding areas - ensuring your VAT payments are correct every time.

Get in touch to request a no-obligation consultation today.

When do businesses need to submit VAT returns?

Put simply, the deadline for VAT returns depends on whether your business is set up for annual or quarterly reporting. All VAT returns must be submitted to HMRC online or using compatible software by the given deadline.

Quarterly VAT returns

The most common of the VAT return periods, most businesses will need to submit their VAT returns every 3 months, otherwise referred to as a fiscal quarter.

The quarter VAT period varies for each business, depending on when the registration process was completed, and whether you asked for a specific taxable period. However, the filing deadline will typically be a month and 7 days after the completion of the VAT return period.

Annual returns

Some businesses will be allowed to submit VAT returns on a yearly basis, according to the financial year. This is solely at the discretion of HMRC VAT services for special cases.

Annual VAT returns are required to be submitted within a month and 7 days of the end of the accounting period.

Monthly VAT returns

If the VAT paid on purchasing goods and services for oneself regularly exceeds VAT charged on the sale of goods and services, this would make you what’s known as a ‘repayment trader’. Though rare, if you fall under this category, you may request to submit monthly VAT returns.

Another situation in which monthly VAT returns might be used is if HMRC have requested you do so due to non-compliance in a previous return.

Remember, it’s not the same everywhere

If you have been researching VAT returns online, it can be deceivingly easy to accidentally stumble upon incorrect information.

Remember, filing VAT returns in England is completely different to filing them in a different country. In Ireland, for example, you will typically need to submit bi-monthly returns on the 1st of January, March, May, July, September and November.

If you are unsure whether this applies to you or want more information on when your VAT tax returns are due, just get in touch to speak to one of our expert accountants in Brighton.

It’s a good rule of thumb to plan ahead so that you don’t miss your VAT deadline. Always be sure to check your online account, or simply ask us. Your deadline will be clearly stated on your HMRC VAT account.

Setting up a direct debit to make a payment

The easiest way to ensure you do not make late VAT payments, and for faster payments, is to set up a direct debit.

Firstly, ensure it is at least 3 working days before you will be submitting your digital VAT return. This ensures that there is enough time to approve the direct debit before your VAT return submission. Then, log into your VAT online account.

Enter your bank account details for the preferred payment method - payment types might include a debit or credit card. It is also worth double checking your internet banking to ensure that the direct debit has been successfully set up.

Once your direct debit has been set up, monthly payments of a standard rate will automatically be deducted from your bank account every calendar month.

Not only does this ensure you do not get penalised for making late payments, but it can also help you to more effectively manage your cash flow as a business owner.

After HMRC has calculated your exact taxable business turnover, and you have paid more VAT than you have received, you might be due a VAT refund. Refunds will be returned to your given bank account within 10 days of you filing your tax return.

Understanding surcharges and penalties for late returns

It is important to understand VAT liabilities in the event of late submission or payment.

If you do not submit your return on time or fail to pay the full amount, HMRC will put a ‘default’ on your account, recording that you have failed to meet requirements.

Once you have ‘defaulted’, you may have to pay a late payment penalty, plus any interest accrued before making payment.

However, depending on whether you have been late before, you may instead receive a Surcharge Liability Notice (SLN). This notifies you that you have been put in a 12 month ‘surcharge period’.

If you continue to miss filing returns or making payments within this time, HMRC will either extend the surcharge period or begin issuing fines. The surcharge is calculated based on your annual turnover and the outstanding payment amount.

Partnering with reliable accountants in Brighton for tax and accounting help

Having an accountant is essential for every business - no matter how large or small.

If you opt to do it all yourself, this can lead to having too much on your plate, taking you away from important business matters. Unless you are a trained accountant, this can also lead to honest mistakes when it comes to meeting deadlines and ensuring compliance.

Through extensive training, our accountants are highly skilled in all financial matters and keep up to date with financial deadlines and legislation. We work with you closely to really understand the needs of your business, keeping on top of the seemingly ever-changing legislation to help you to prepare for every aspect of the financial year.

Get in touch with Atkinsons today

Here at Atkinsons Accountants, we have considerable experience in working with small and medium-sized businesses, as well as freelancers, startups, and even sole traders. Our accountants in Brighton and Hove also cover New Maiden, East Sussex, Haywards Heath, and the surrounding areas for a truly flexible solution.

We’ll get you started with a no-obligation quote and initial consultation so that, from the get-go, you can be rest assured that your financial stress will be eliminated.

To see how Atkinsons Accountants can support your business, get in touch with our accountants in Brighton today.