You may be aware that the Government is moving forward with the plan to implement online filing for most business tax returns. The next phase of this it to require businesses to file their VAT returns online from April next year. This requirement will apply to all businesses with annual turnover of more than £100,000, which means that your business will be affected by this change.
Your first return which will be affected by the new rules must be filed online and paid by electronic payment, which includes BACS,Billpay and Direct Debit. It would be wise to start thinking about how you intend to move to online filing for VAT in the run up to that date.
As you currently file the VAT returns for the business, you will need to register for VAT online prior to April 2010 in readiness. This is a fairly simple process, but to do so you will need the last VAT return you have filed, and the date the business registered for VAT, which is shown on your VAT registration certificate. If you are not able to locate this, you can obtain the date from HMRC VAT advice line on 0845 010 9000.
Whatever your decision about filing VAT returns online, you will also need to make arrangements to pay your VAT liabilities electronically.
You can use an internet bank account, or there is a wide variety of other ways in which you can make electronic payment, but the simplest method is to set up a Direct Debit authority under which your VAT is collected three working days after the due date for each return. You will have an extra 7 days to file your return when using the online service, so returns are due on 7th of the month. This means your VAT would normally be paid between 10th and 12th of the following month after the normal due date for the return.
More details about online payment methods are here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/payinghmrc/vat.htm , including details of how to register for Direct Debit, which is done after you have registered to file returns online.