HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have listened to concerns expressed last year when the online filing system was taken down over the April VAT return deadline, says the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT).
The CIOT is pleased to note that this year HMRC have delayed the period when they will take down the online system for VAT returns. HMRC will now take their filing system down from Sunday 8 April through to Wednesday 11 April. This should not therefore interfere with taxpayers and agents due to submit VAT returns on or before the 7 April 2012 deadline.
HMRC’s online filing system is taken down twice a year for major improvements. Last year this downtime crossed the 7 April VAT return filing deadline, causing many businesses and advisers problems, especially as this was the first deadline for which penalties would be charged for late filing. HMRC scheduled another downtime across 7 March this year with little notice, to the consternation of some businesses.
Simon Newark, Vice-Chairman of the CIOT’s VAT and Indirect Taxes Sub-Committee, commented:
‘We congratulate HMRC on taking a sensible decision this time. The CIOT and other professional bodies have been involved behind the scenes and have put concerted pressure on HMRC to reconsider the timing of future upgrades.
‘We appreciate that complex systems such as HMRC’s have to be taken down for upgrades but the timing of that is important to businesses trying to meet their obligations. Now, providing you file and pay a February VAT return on time and online by 7 April you should not be affected by the downtime. Note though that the deadline for filing repayment VAT returns remains at 31 March.
‘We trust that HMRC will continue to consider the needs of taxpayers when timing future upgrades. What would really help would be email notification of downtimes to help business plan around inevitable breaks in the service, as Companies House do.’
Notes to Editors
- VAT returns are normally filed electronically and have a usual deadline of the 7th of the month, some five weeks after the end of the VAT return period. Thus traders need the HMRC system to be running up until midnight on the 7th of any month.
- HMRC have announced that the VAT online service will be unavailable from 00.01 on Sunday 8 April until 06.00 on Wednesday 11 April. Details are available at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/vat-online-downtime.htm. This will allow for upgrade work, including annual PAYE changes.
- Details of HMRC’s online service availability for other taxes are at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/online/index.htm
16 March 2012