Why is it necessary to use spreadsheets for VAT Returns?

Before the Make Tax Digital (MTD) programme was started by HMRC, it was possible to submit VAT returns using their online.gov.uk portal. Via this web tool, numbers could be entered for Sales, VAT due etc and then submitted directly to HMRC.

Easy. So why does Open Digital Tax force users to upload via a spreadsheet?

The simple answer is that it encourages better record keeping by companies using our site, which makes their tax affairs easier to manage. With the old portal page, it was very easy for users to keep no local record of their actual HMRC return numbers. The user journey on the page allowed numbers to input directly. HMRC were concerned that this discouraged users from retaining a master, digital copy which was the source of their VAT return numbers.

When Open Digital Tax was onboarding to HMRC, we were asked to ensure that we only permitted VAT returns via uploading of data from a local digital record. In our case this is from a CSV file, but in principle this could be from any upstream software.

We support CSVs exported from our Standard spreadsheet template, but can add support from any other CSV (or other) format. This ensures that the master record of your VAT numbers is held locally in your digital records, which is aligned to HMRC's MTD goals.

Updated: Wed 11 Sep, 2019, 09:54