A VAT Return records your total sales and most purchases, as well as the amount of VAT you owe and can reclaim.

VAT Returns are due every quarter if your company is VAT-registered, meaning you will usually submit a VAT Return to HM Revenue and Custom every three months. Each quarter is known as the accounting period.

Even if you do not have any VAT to pay, you must still submit a VAT Return.

Here we will be going through how to complete a VAT Return so that you know what is required to keep your business tax compliant.

How to complete a VAT Return

Complete your VAT Return online

Almost all businesses are required to complete their VAT Returns online and pay electronically. You may be able to make alternative arrangements to pay your VAT Return offline if it is not possible for you to use a computer, such as in the case of certain disabilities or remoteness of location.

Online VAT Returns are safe and secure and have the added benefit of an extra 7 calendar days to submit the return and pay any owed VAT, compared to paper returns.

What is required in each of the boxes on your VAT Return?

To complete your VAT Return, you need to fill in nine boxes regarding the VAT you owe. In all boxes on your VAT Return, do not enter more than one amount in any box, and write ‘0.00’ where necessary, rather than simply ‘0’ or ‘none’, unless you are completing a paper return; in this case, write ‘none’.

If you have a negative amount in any of the first 4 boxes, put a minus sign before negative amounts on your online form. On a paper return, put the figure in brackets instead.

Box 1 – VAT due in the period on sales and other outputs

The first box on your VAT Return is for the VAT due on the goods and services you supplied in the accounting period for which you are filling out the return.

Box 2 – VAT due in the period on acquisitions of goods made in Northern Ireland from EU Member States

In this box, you need to state the amount of VAT due on goods and related costs purchased from VAT-registered suppliers in EU member states, brought into Northern Ireland.

Box 3 – Total VAT due

The total VAT due is the values of boxes 1 and 2 added together, also known as your ‘output VAT’ for the period. This figure is calculated automatically when completing your VAT Return online.

Box 4 – VAT reclaimed in the period on purchases and other inputs (including acquisitions from the EU)

This box is for the total amount of deductible VAT from your business purchases and is also known as your ‘input VAT’ for the period. Only claims supported by a proper VAT invoice can be included.

Box 5 – Net VAT to pay to HMRC or reclaim

Use the totals from boxes 3 and 4 to work out your Net VAT to pay or reclaim by deducting the smaller figure from the larger figure. If you are completing your VAT Return online, this figure will be calculated automatically.

Box 6 – Total value of sales and all other outputs excluding any VAT

This box is for the total value of all your business sales and other specific outputs, excluding any VAT.

Box 7 – The total value of purchases and all other inputs excluding any VAT

This box is for stating the total value of your purchases and expenses, excluding VAT and payments like wages and insurance and interest.

Box 8 – Total value of all supplies of goods and related costs, excluding any VAT, to EU member states from Northern Ireland.

This box is used to show the total value of all supplies of goods to EU member states from Northern Ireland and directly related costs where they form part of the invoice, excluding VAT.

Box 9 – Total value of all acquisitions of goods and related costs, excluding any VAT, from EU member states to Northern Ireland

The final box on your VAT Return is for the total value of all acquisitions of goods from VAT-registered suppliers in EU member states to Northern Ireland and directly related costs, where they form part of the invoice, excluding VAT.

The benefits of using an accountant to help with submitting your VAT Returns

Completing your VAT Returns is a legal requirement, but the time you have to put in takes you away from the important tasks involved in running your business. Using an accountant to help you submit your VAT Returns makes the entire process much easier.

An accountant can prepare your VAT Returns in plenty of time and make sure that all deadlines are met so that you avoid any surcharges or penalties. An accountant will also be able to advise you on issues such as the interest on overpaid or underpaid VAT.

You can relax knowing that the finances of your business are being handled by a professional and your business is being kept tax compliant.

If you are looking for an accountant to help you complete your VAT Returns, please get in touch, we’ll be happy to help.