At the start of lockdown, the Government announced a number of measures to help businesses weather the pandemic. One of those measures was the option for VAT-registered businesses to defer VAT payments that fell due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. This window meant payment of VAT for the following quarters could be deferred:
- quarter to 29 February 2020 – due by 7 April 2020;
- quarter to 31 March 2020 – due by 7 May 2020; and
- quarter 30 April 2020 – due by 7 June 2020.
However, businesses opting to defer payments were still required to file their VAT returns on time.
VAT due after 30 June 2020
Normal service is resumed in respect of VAT which falls due after 30 June 2020. This must be paid in full and on time. Consequently, VAT for the quarter to 31 May 2020 must be paid by 7 July 2020, even if the trader has yet to pay their VAT for the quarter to 29 February 2020. This applies to successive VAT quarters too.
Set up canceled direct debits
Where VAT is normally paid by direct debit but the direct debit was canceled to enable the trader to take advantage of the deferral option, the direct debit needs to be set up again so that payments can be taken automatically. If this has not yet been done, payments will need to be triggered manually to ensure that VAT reaches HMRC on time until the direct debit is back up and running.
Paying VAT that has been deferred
Deferred VAT remains due – the measure simply provides a longer payment window; it does not cancel the liability. VAT that fell due in the period from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 was originally due to be paid in full by 31 March 2021.
However, in delivering his Winter Economy Plan on 24 September 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that instead, he will allow businesses to spread the repayment of deferred VAT over 11 smaller repayments during 2020/21, with no interest to pay.
Struggling to pay?
Businesses in certain sectors, such as hospitality and leisure, are still not able to operate normally. Where, despite the longer repayment period, a business thinks that it may struggle to repay its deferred VAT, it should contact HMRC to set up a time to pay agreement, which can spread the repayments over a longer period. This should be done before the first payment becomes due.