Thursday, 23 February 2012

The joys of VAT!

When I 'retired' from full-time employment in education and set up my own educational consultancy business, I had to register for VAT (Value Added Tax). My company's turnover has never actually been high enough to meet the threshold for VAT registration, but because all my 'clients' were (and continue to be) local education establishments, their regulations required that the company was registered.

Until recently this has never been a problem ... in fact, of all the various sections within Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that I have to deal with, the VAT people have always been the most helpful. The problem is that HMRC is now moving over to paperless VAT returns and electronic payment of any net VAT that is to be paid to Customs or reclaimed from them (the dreaded contents of Box 5 on the VAT return!). I have, therefore, had to register my company for the new electronic 'service' ... and it has taken me several hours and quite a bit of swearing!

Firstly I had to register my company for the service. I did this online on 9th February, and was told that I would get a unique User ID sent me me by post 'within seven days'. Needless to say, the ID did not arrive until this morning, and this afternoon I have completed the process of registration ... just!

The problem is that I am registered under my own name for Income Tax self-assessment, and every time I logged on to the HMRC computer system it kept directing me to my personal account, not the company's account. Once I had finally sorted that 'minor' problem out, the registration process was quite straight forward ... until I had to register an email address for reminders to be set to me when the VAT returns were due. I entered the email address I wanted to use ... and was then informed that it could not be activated until I had received an email containing an activation code 'which will be sent you in a few minutes'. I am not sure how long 'a few minutes' is supposed to be ... but it was nearly thirty before the email with the correct activation code arrived.

The registration process is now complete ... but I now feel quite frazzled and not very motivated to continue the modelling task that I stopped in order to complete the VAT online return registration process. What has also annoyed me about having to do this is the fact my wife and I are hoping to wind up the company in about six months time ... and that means that I will only have to do three VAT returns using this new service.


  1. I've spent the day trying to send a Corp tax return to HMRC using new Ixbrl software. -- I'll try again tomorrow!

    Being a charity we don't even pay tax! grrrrr

  2. Prince Lupus,

    'The truth is ... no computer network will change the way government works' - Clifford Stoll, 1995

    Judging by our experiences today, they got that prediction wrong, didn't they?

    Good luck with your efforts tomorrow.

    All the best,