Half a million businesses file VAT returns late


More than half a million VAT returns were filed late by British businesses last year – up 13% on the previous year – according to figures compiled by UHY Hacker Young. HMRC has offered a more flexible approach for businesses, allowing them to defer VAT payments during COVID-19, but there is no blanket exemption for all businesses. HMRC instead determines what qualifies as a “reasonable excuse” for late filing and payment. “For businesses that have filed their VAT returns late, it’s only a matter of time before the harsh reality of receiving a penalty kicks in,” said Sean Glancy, partner at the firm. He added: “Businesses shouldn’t take HMRC’s more sympathetic approach during the pandemic as a free pass. Where possible, they should try to keep on top of their VAT bills, as there’s no guarantee HMRC will accept their excuse for filing or paying late.”

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