The UK government's latest change to tax legislation called "Making Tax Digital" (MTD) will require all VAT registered businesses to start using a recognised and up-to-date accounting package from 1st April 2019. Submission of VAT Returns to HMRC will then happen directly from your accounts software.
Although MTD applies from 1st April 2019, there is a relaxed ''Soft Landing' 12-month period during which businesses will not be penalised it they’re not fully onboard. HMRC acknowledge that it will take time for everyone to go fully digital. Between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020 you will be able to use 'Bridging' software to copy and paste your VAT box figures from your current spreadsheet (or whatever system you're using to calculate your VAT liabilities) to this bridging software, which will then upload it to the HMRC VAT portal.
Due to Coronavirus having a significant impact on businesses throughout the UK, the soft landing period has now been extend and will end for VAT periods starting on or after 1st April 2021.
All VAT registered businesses with a taxable turnover of or above the UK VAT registration threshold (currently £85,00) must register for MTD by April 1st 2019 (or before your next VAT Return after that date). If you need more information, please call HMRC on 0300 200 3700.