HMRC to axe online-only rule for VAT returns

Following a recent consultation, HM Revenue and Customs has agreed to relax the rule that all VAT returns must be filed online.

HMRC will now allow telephone and paper filing, after a court found that the online rule infringed business owners’ human rights. Businesses will be able to file VAT returns over the telephone after proving that it is not practical for them to file online. If age, disability or remote location makes it impractical to file by telephone, paper filing will be permitted.

Before the ruling, online returns were mandatory unless the taxpayer was a practising member of a religious society, or owned a business that was in insolvency. However, a consultation on tax fairness revealed that this requirement breached the human rights of those who were unable to file online.

Further to the new ruling, HMRC will now improve telephone filing on VAT returns by letting taxpayers ring in, rather than using the existing ‘call back service’. New guidance on the use of the return phone line and service outside of working hours are to be published.

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