HMRC has issued a reminder that all VAT registered businesses in the UK will now have to submit their VAT returns online, and also pay any VAT owed electronically, from 1 April.

Since April 2010 only newly-registered businesses and those with an annual turnover of more than £100,000 had to submit their VAT online. Previously, HMRC accepted paper returns from smaller firms, but as of 1 April, all remaining VAT registered businesses will also have to submit their VAT returns online.

1.9 million VAT registered firms will now use the online system for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 April 2012.

Few businesses will be exempt from the switch, such as those subject to insolvency procedures and businesses managed by individuals whose religious beliefs prevent them from using a computer.

Businesses submitting their VAT returns online will need to register and enrol for the HMRC service and will benefit from automated responses that their returns has been received and alerts to when their next return is due.

Individuals are legally responsible for paying any tax due and ensuring that HMRC receive all relevant information on time. A penalty ranging between £100 and £400 will be charged if a paper return is submitted, it is late, or if it is submitted with an error. More information can be found at