All VAT returns must now be submitted digitally using MTD compatible software (unless the business has an exemption) so the VAT penalties have been revised to fit with this new regime.
If you submit a VAT return late for a period starting on or after 1 January 2023 the HMRC computer will automatically allocate a late-filing ‘point’ but not a monetary penalty. Only when you have collected several points will you receive a flat £200 penalty.
The penalty threshold depends on how regularly you file your VAT returns:
- quarterly returns: 4 points;
- monthly returns: 5 points; and
- annual returns: 2 points.
Businesses that file quarterly VAT returns become liable to pay a £200 penalty when they file the fourth VAT return late. Each subsequent late VAT return triggers another £200 late-filing penalty until the points slate is wiped clean by a period of perfect compliance.
Perfect compliance is achieved by completing all outstanding VAT returns and filing all VAT returns on time for twelve months. Annual and monthly filers have different periods to meet for perfect compliance.
It does not matter whether the VAT return shows a repayment or VAT owing – if it is delivered late a point or penalty is charged. There is no soft-landing for the new system of late-filing penalties.
The old system of surcharges for late paid VAT does not feed into the new late-filing penalty system.