VATflash March 2011

HMRC online filing system down for five days

HMRC have announced a five-day scheduled downtime in their online filing systems from the 2 to 6 April. This will undoubtedly cause problems for filing February quarter VAT returns, which are due to be filed and paid electronically by Thursday 7 April.

HMRC did not anticipate any resulting problems and simply suggested that VAT returns are filed by 1 April. However, if everyone tries to file online on 7 April there is a possibility that HMRC servers will crash.

HMRC are apparently unable to alter the filing deadline but after pressure from the Chartered Institute of Taxation’s Indirect Tax Sub-committee they have agreed to accept the system downtime as a reasonable excuse for a late filing. We understand that a ‘reasonable excuse’ claim form will be available on HMRC’s website by 31 March, however we do not recommend that this is relied upon.

We suggest that your VAT returns due to be filed at the end of March/ early April, for the February quarter-ends, are brought forward to the end of March where possible. As far as we know, the filing system downtime does not affect HMRC’s ability to receive electronic payments, which must be received by 7 April.