For all tax periods beginning on or after 1 April 2010, all registered businesses with an annual VAT-exclusive turnover of £100,000 or more and all newly-registered businesses must file their returns online and pay any VAT due electronically.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have now introduced a recorded message about this on their National Helpline (0845 010 9000) and are encouraging all affected businesses to make adequate preparations.
It is also important to ensure that internal procedures, manuals, job descriptions, etc are amended to make sure that systems are watertight when the changes take effect.
HMRC will continue to provide information leading up to 1 April on relevant issues including how to enrol for the online service and which electronic payment methods are acceptable.
In February, all businesses affected by the change can expect a letter from HMRC confirming their requirement to file online from their first return period beginning on or after 1 April.
The administrative burden is likely to be greater for new businesses, those whose turnover only just exceeds the £100,000 threshold and those with only a few staff, but HMRC are providing as much support and advice as they can.