Agents: use software to submit VAT Returns

You or your clients can use software to submit VAT Returns as part of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital pilot.

HMRC is changing the way you submit VAT Returns on behalf of your clients. From April 2019, most VAT registered businesses with a taxable turnover above £85,000 must keep their VAT records digitally and use Making Tax Digital compatible software to submit their VAT Returns.

Instead of waiting until then, you can get compatible software now and try this new way of submitting your clients’ returns so you’re ready when the changes come in. By signing up to HMRC’s secure service, you’re helping test a new way of working as part of the Making Tax Digital pilot.

As a professional tax agent you need an agent services account to sign up to this pilot. This is different to your existing agents account for HMRC online services.

You’ll need to:

Who can use this service

Once you’ve created your agent services account and added your clients, you’ll need to sign up eligible clients for the pilot.

Your clients may qualify for the pilot if they use a standard accounting period, are up to date with their VAT, and:

  • are a sole trader
  • currently submit the VAT Return for the limited company

Once you’ve signed up your clients to take part in the pilot, you’ll have to continue to use Making Tax Digital compatible software to submit their VAT Returns.

They will not be able to take part in the pilot at the moment if they:

  • currently trade with, or have traded with the EU
  • are a partnership
  • are part of a VAT group or VAT Division
  • are based overseas
  • are a trust
  • are a not for profit organisation that is not set up as a company
  • submit monthly or annual returns
  • make VAT payments on account
  • use the VAT Flat Rate Scheme
  • are a business that is newly registered for VAT and you have not previously used your VAT online account to submit your VAT Return

If your clients pay their VAT by Direct Debit they will not be able to sign up in the 15 working days leading up to their submission date and the 5 working days immediately after it.

This pilot will be opened to more businesses. Check back regularly to see if it has been extended to include more of your clients.

How it works

If you qualify you can choose the right software for you and your clients. If you already use software, check with your provider to see if you can use it with this pilot. You might want to use more than one product, provided they link together digitally.

Then you can:

  • sign up your clients for the Making Tax Digital pilot
  • make sure you or your clients are using software to keep their business records, prepare their next VAT Returns, and submit them to HMRC

Sign up your clients for the pilot

You’ll need to have:

  • the Government Gateway user ID and password you got when you created your agent services account
  • each agent Government Gateway user ID used by your business for your VAT clients
  • your client’s VAT registration number

You must make sure that you either get compatible software, or that the software you already use is suitable for Making Tax Digital before you sign up for the pilot.

Service availability

You can check the availability and any issues affecting this service.

If you need help

Check with your provider if you need help using the software, for example with keeping your clients’ sales and purchase records, or submitting their VAT Returns.

If you have another query about the Making Tax Digital pilot for VAT you can:

Published 16 October 2018
Last updated 30 November 2018 + show all updates
  1. The "Who can use this service" section has been updated to show that users can submit monthly returns as well as annual returns.
  2. First published.