Paper VAT registration to be abolished in latest digital move

In the latest move in their Making Tax Digital (MTD) campaign, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is removing paper VAT registration from 13 November 2023.

Most tax services have moved online over the past few years, with the incentive to offer only online services eventually. With no paper tax options available, what does this mean?

Benefits of online registration

In a world where technology is heavily integrated into many businesses’ operations, it is no surprise that 95 per cent of those who use HMRC’s VAT registration service do so online.

Online services allow constant access, high security, and faster applications. They are also more convenient, allowing businesses to complete their VAT registration at a time and place that suits them rather than waiting for paperwork to arrive and be posted back.

For businesses, there are also fewer anxieties with online registration as there is no paperwork to be misplaced or lost in the post. They can keep track of their application more accurately and quickly rectify any mistakes.

Drawbacks of online registration

Whilst it is true that most businesses are already using online VAT registration, there are 5 per cent of businesses that are not.

There are some businesses that are unable to use online services, such as:

  • Digitally excluded businesses
  • Applicants for a registration exception
  • Joiners of agricultural flat rate schemes
  • Online partnerships

You also require a Unique Taxpayers Reference (UTR) number to complete online VAT registration, so if your business does not have a UTR number you will be unable to use the service.

Alternatives to online VAT registration

If you or your business is unable to use the online service, there is an alternative option.

You can call the VAT helpline to request a VAT1, which comes as a paper form that can be filled out and returned.

Link: Registering for VAT online (Register for VAT: How to register for VAT – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk))

If you need any help or advice regarding this, please get in touch with one of our experts.

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