By Niamh Tracey | 7 November, 2023

Paper VAT registrations end on 13 November

HMRC will be scrapping paper VAT registrations and mandating online only sign-ups next week

The new rules will come into effect from 13 November as part of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) strategy.

Taxpayers will have to register for VAT through the online VAT Registration Service using their Government Gateway account. However, some types of business will not be able to use the service as the online service still needs to be expanded to cover businesses joining the agricultural flat rate scheme, overseas partnerships and entities without a unique tax reference (UTR) number.

It is important to note that if a taxpayer has a particular exemption, they will have to contact HMRC by phone to request a paper form which will then be posted to them for completion. Paper applications take up to 40 days to process.

Taxpayers will have to ask for a VAT1 form to get online exemption by calling the VAT Helpline on 0300 200 3700 and ‘they will have to justify why they are unable to register online’, HMRC said.

While 95% of firms are already registering for VAT online, next week’s change could be daunting for the 5% that have not completed it this way before.

Mariana Príncipe, head of VAT compliance at Ryan, said: ‘There are three key advantages to digital-only VAT registrations that will benefit both HMRC and businesses, including faster turnarounds for VAT numbers as there should be less of a wait to get VAT numbers, a reduction in the amount of paperwork and it will be a more secure process.

‘VAT registration in the UK requires highly sensitive information, including the passport details of the legal representative and the trade register. This information could be intercepted if sent by post, and emails can also be hacked easily. By completing the registration through HMRC’s secure online portal, the risk of private information falling into the wrong hands is reduced significantly.’

The move is part of HMRC’s plan to move all tax transactions online to cut costs and reduce use of call centre advisers by 30% by the end of 2024.

HMRC told stakeholders: ‘Supporting our customers is a priority for us and online applications for VAT registrations aligns with our ambition to increase the use of digital channels.

‘For customers that are unable to access and use our digital channels, we’ll always provide a service to meet their needs. We continue to offer support through non digital channels such as via telephone, including our extra support service.’

With the push to digital filing and reduction in phone support, HMRC will have to invest heavily in existing IT systems to ensure they can be used for specialist services.
Príncipe added: ‘HMRC is making fantastic strides on its MTD strategy, especially compared to other European countries. In Spain, for example, to perform a VAT registration, it still requires an individual to book a meeting at a tax office and physically bring in the paperwork.

‘Coming up next, all eyes should be on the Form VAT652. This is the form that you have to complete if you are making a correction to your VAT return. At the moment, you can complete this form online or via a paper form, but I am sure it won’t be long before the paper option will be removed.’

Source: Accountancy Daily