Surcharges and penalties
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) record a ‘default’ if:
- they do not receive your VAT return by the deadline
- full payment for the VAT due on your return has not reached their account by the deadline
You may enter a 12-month ‘surcharge period’ if you default. If you default again during this time:
- the surcharge period is extended for a further 12 months
- you may have to pay an extra amount (a ‘surcharge’) on top of the VAT you owe
If you submit a late return, you will not have to pay a surcharge if you:
- pay your VAT in full by the deadline
- have no tax to pay
- are due a VAT repayment
HMRC will write to you explaining any surcharges you owe and what happens if you default again.
How much you pay
Your surcharge is a percentage of the VAT outstanding on the due date for the accounting period that is in default. The surcharge rate increases every time you default again in a surcharge period.
This table shows how much you’ll be charged if you default within a surcharge period.
You do not pay a surcharge for your first default.
|Defaults within 12 months||Surcharge if annual turnover is less than £150,000||Surcharge if annual turnover is £150,000 or more|
|2nd||No surcharge||2% (no surcharge if this is less than £400)|
|3rd||2% (no surcharge if this is less than £400)||5% (no surcharge if this is less than £400)|
|4th||5% (no surcharge if this is less than £400)||10% or £30 (whichever is more)|
|5th||10% or £30 (whichever is more)||15% or £30 (whichever is more)|
|6 or more||15% or £30 (whichever is more)||15% or £30 (whichever is more)|
HMRC can charge you a penalty of up to:
- 100% of any tax under-stated or over-claimed if you send a return that contains a careless or deliberate inaccuracy
- 30% of an assessment if HMRC sends you one that’s too low and you do not tell them it’s wrong within 30 days
- £400 if you submit a paper VAT return, unless HMRC has told you you’re exempt from submitting your return using your VAT online account or Making Tax Digital compatible software