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HMRC internal manual

VAT Accounting Manual

Accounting for VAT: online VAT returns - exemptions

The following are exempt from the requirement to submit VAT returns online (under regulation 25A(6) of the VAT Regulations 1995):-

  • persons subject to an insolvency procedure;
  • a person who the Commissioners are satisfied is a practising member of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications; in practice such cases will be rare.
  • persons for whom online filing is not reasonably practicable for reasons of disability, age, remoteness of location, or any other reason.

The third exemption was introduced, with effect from 1 July 2014, in response to the decision of the First Tier Tribunal in L H Bishop and others, which ruled that UK VAT law breached the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to take account of a person’s ability to comply on account of age, disability, computer illiteracy (linked to age) or remoteness of location.

HMRC had argued that telephone filing provided a valid alternative method for such businesses to file online. But the judge held that telephone filing could not cure the human rights breach as it had not been legislated for or properly publicised. For more information on assistance with online filing see VATAC1260.