Remember that you are just a custodian for any VAT that is paid to you by a customer, and that this must be paid over to HMRC. Most small businesses pay VAT quarterly, although some choose to pay monthly and submit one VAT return under the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme.
Quarterly VAT payments must be made no later than one month and seven days after the end of a VAT quarter. So, if your VAT quarter ends on 31st March, you have until 7th May to pay your VAT. If the 7th falls on a weekend or bank holiday, you must pay VAT on the previous working day. If you set up a Direct Debit payment to pay VAT, then you get an additional three days to pay.
It’s a good business discipline to build up money in a separate business bank account (called a reserve account) so that you can pay your VAT liability on time and in full. Xero and Freeagent are two great systems which will allow you to know what the running total on your VAT liability is at any point in the quarter.
From time to time, you hit a bump in the road and may not be able to pay your VAT by the due date. If this happens, it is essential that
- All VAT is correctly reported on your VAT return
- You speak to HMRC to advise them you cannot make payment in full. In most cases they are sympathetic and will agree to a short term payment plan. But this can be difficult if you have a history of late payments or don’t communicate with them
Our VAT experts can work alongside you to ensure that you plan correctly for VAT payments.