A VAT Deferral Payment Scheme was introduced by HMRC which allowed businesses to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 until 31 March 2021, without penalties or late payment interest.
If you had opted into this scheme to defer your VAT payments during the pandemic your VAT Return should still have been filed on time.
The scheme ended on 30 June 2020, after this date, all VAT payments should have been paid in full and on time.
HMRC has confirmed that if companies do not pay in full or make an arrangement to pay deferred VAT by 30 June 2021, they will be liable for a 5% penalty or interest.
How to opt-in to the new VAT deferral payment scheme
The VAT Deferral Payment Scheme opened on 23 February 2021 and it will be running until (and including) 21 June 2021.
You should have been invited to join this payment scheme if you are on the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme or the VAT Payment on Account Scheme.
This scheme allowed those eligible to make up to 11 smaller, interest-free monthly payments instead of paying the outstanding VAT in full at the end of March 2021.
To be eligible for this scheme you must:
- join the scheme yourself, an agent cannot do this for you
- still have deferred VAT to pay
- be up to date with your VAT returns
- join by 21 June 2021
- pay the first instalment when you join
- pay your instalments by Direct Debit
If want to use the scheme but cannot pay by Direct Debit, you can contact the COVID-19 helpline when the scheme opens.
If you have a Time to Pay arrangement already in place for your deferred VAT, you cannot use the online scheme. If you want to amend your Time to Pay arrangement, please contact HMRC.
Instalment options available
The number of instalments available to you will change depending on the month you opt into the scheme. There are a maximum of 10 instalments available from April as follows:
- 10 instalments if you joined by 21 April
- 9 instalments if you join by 19 May
- 8 instalments if you join by 21 June.
What should you do to prepare?
To join the scheme you will need to do the following:
- create your own Government Gateway account (if you do not already have one)
- submit any outstanding VAT returns from the last 4 years – if you don't you will not be able to join the scheme
- correct errors on your VAT return as soon as possible
- make sure you know how much you owe, including the amount you originally deferred and how much you may have already paid
If you cannot use the online service
You won't be able to use the online service if you don't have a UK bank account, if you can't pay by direct debit or if you have dual signatories on your account.
If any of these apply to you and you want to join the payment scheme, make sure you contact the COVID-19 helpline when the scheme opens. You can call on 0800 024 1222 and an adviser will help you to join the scheme.
Do you need to correct VAT returns for the VAT deferral period?
The VAT deferral period covered accounting periods for February, March, April & May 2020. However, May was for payment on account customers and certain non-standard tax periods only, in addition to the previous months.
If you have noticed an error on a VAT return that relates to a period covered by the scheme, you should Fill in form VAT652 and send it to the VAT Error Correction Team.
What can I do if I still can't pay?
If you still can't pay and you need more time, contact HMRC.
If you would like to know more about the support that is available check out this business support guide from HMRC.