top of page
  • Writer's picturePTA

VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK

Updated: Aug 8

The Value Added Tax (VAT) Annual Accounting Scheme is a unique system in the United Kingdom designed to simplify the VAT return process for businesses. Unlike the standard procedure where VAT-registered businesses must submit their VAT returns and payments four times a year, this scheme allows businesses to make advance VAT payments and submit only one VAT return per year.

VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK

Key Features of the Scheme

The Annual Accounting Scheme is characterized by two main features. Firstly, businesses make advance VAT payments towards their VAT bill, which are based on the last return or an estimate if the business is new to VAT. Secondly, businesses are required to submit only one VAT return per year, significantly reducing the administrative burden.

From 1 April 2019, most businesses are required to keep digital VAT records and use software to submit VAT Returns. When the VAT Return is submitted, businesses either make a final payment, which is the difference between the advance payments and the actual VAT bill or apply for a refund if they've overpaid their VAT bill.

Eligibility and Suitability

The scheme is open to businesses whose estimated VAT taxable turnover is £1.35 million or less. However, it's important to note that the scheme may not be suitable for businesses that regularly reclaim VAT, as they will only be able to get one refund a year when they submit the VAT Return.

Businesses are advised to consult with an accountant or tax adviser to determine whether the Annual Accounting Scheme is the right choice for them.

Exceptions to Eligibility

Certain conditions disqualify businesses from using the scheme. These include businesses that have left the scheme in the last 12 months, businesses that are part of a VAT-registered division or group of companies, businesses that are not up to date with their VAT Returns or payments, and businesses that are insolvent.


Businesses that are behind on their VAT payments or that have committed a VAT offence within the last 12 months are not eligible to join the scheme.

Potential Drawbacks

While the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme offers several benefits, there are potential drawbacks to consider. One of the main disadvantages is that businesses that regularly reclaim VAT may find the scheme unsuitable as they can only receive one refund per year. This could potentially affect cash flow and should be considered carefully.

Joining and Leaving the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK

The VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK is a system that simplifies the VAT return process for businesses. However, joining and leaving the scheme involves specific procedures that businesses must follow.

How to Join the Scheme

To join the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme, businesses must first ensure they are eligible. Once eligibility is confirmed, businesses can join the scheme in two ways. The first is online when registering for VAT. The second method is by post, where businesses fill in the VAT600 AA form or use the VAT600 AA/FRS to apply for the Flat Rate Scheme simultaneously. The form should not be sent to the address on the form but to the following address instead:

BT VAT HM Revenue and Customs BX9 1WR

Confirmation of joining the scheme is sent to the business's VAT online account or by post if the application was not made online.

The Steb-By-Step Process

The VAT Annual Accounting Scheme is a convenient method for businesses to manage their VAT obligations. Instead of submitting quarterly returns, businesses can opt for an annual return, making the process more streamlined. This section provides guidance on how businesses can apply to join this scheme using the form VAT600AA.

1. How to Apply Businesses have two primary methods to apply for the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme:

  • Online Application: This is the preferred method for many businesses. To apply online, businesses need a Government Gateway user ID and password. If they don't have a user ID, they can create one when they access the service.

  • Paper Application: Businesses can also opt for the traditional method by completing the paper application form VAT 600AA. This form is specifically for businesses that want to use only the Annual Accounting Scheme. If a business wishes to use the Annual Accounting Scheme in conjunction with the Flat Rate Scheme, they should use the joint application form VAT 600AA&FRS.

2. Importance of Keeping Copies It's advisable for businesses to keep a copy of their application. This can be beneficial if they have any queries or concerns about their application in the future.

3. Timing of Application Timing is crucial when applying for the scheme. Businesses should ensure they give HMRC enough time to process their application. Typically, the authorization to use the Annual Accounting Scheme starts from the first day of the period in which the application gets finalized. If a business applies towards the end of its accounting period and the return for that period has already been issued, its entry to the scheme might be delayed until the commencement of the next period.

4. Notification from HMRC Once a business submits its application, HMRC will review it and notify the business in writing about the outcome. If the application is accepted, the notification letter will provide details such as:

  • The amount and timing of the interim payments calculated for the business.

  • The chosen method of electronic payment.

  • The due date for the annual return and the balancing payment.

5. Completing the Paper Application Form For businesses opting for the paper application method, the form comes with specific sections that need to be filled out accurately:

  • Section A: This section requires details like the business's name, address, and VAT registration number. The name should match the one on the business's certificate of registration (form VAT 4), and the address should be that of the principal place of business.

How to Leave the Scheme

Businesses can leave the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme at any time. However, they must leave if they are no longer eligible to be in it. To leave the scheme, businesses need to write to HMRC at the address mentioned above. HMRC will then confirm when the business can leave the scheme. From this date, the business must account for VAT in the usual way. It's important to note that businesses have to wait 12 months before they can rejoin the scheme.

Considerations for Joining and Leaving the Scheme

Before joining the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme, businesses should consider whether the scheme is suitable for their specific circumstances. For instance, businesses that regularly reclaim VAT may find the scheme unsuitable as they can only receive one refund per year.

When leaving the scheme, businesses should consider the implications of their VAT accounting processes. They will need to revert to the standard VAT accounting procedures, which may involve more administrative work.

Joining and leaving the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK involves specific procedures that businesses must follow. While the scheme offers several benefits, including simplifying the VAT return process, businesses should carefully consider their individual circumstances before joining or leaving the scheme. Consulting with a tax adviser or accountant can be beneficial in making this decision.

Return and Payment Deadlines for the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK

The VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK simplifies the VAT return process for businesses. However, it's crucial for businesses to understand the return and payment deadlines associated with the scheme.

VAT Return Deadline

In the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme, there are 12 months in the VAT accounting period. The VAT Return is due once a year, two months after the end of the accounting period. Most businesses are now required to keep digital VAT records and use software to submit VAT Returns.

Payment Deadlines

Businesses must make advance payments towards their VAT bill during their accounting period. These payments can be made either monthly or quarterly, with a final payment due when the VAT Return is submitted.

  • Monthly payments are due at the end of months 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.

  • Quarterly payments are due at the end of months 4, 7, and 10.

  • The final payment is due within two months of month 12.

Payment Amounts

Each payment is either 10% of the estimated VAT bill for monthly payments or 25% for quarterly payments. The amount is based on previous VAT returns or estimated if the business is new to VAT. HMRC will write to the business indicating when the instalments are due and how much they will be.

The final payment, known as a 'balancing payment', is the difference between the advance payments and the actual VAT bill confirmed on the VAT Return. If a business has overpaid HMRC, it may be due a VAT refund.

All VAT payments to HMRC must be made electronically, for example, by Direct Debit or Internet banking.

VAT Notice 732: Annual Accounting

Details The latest version of Notice 732 replaces the previous version from November 2013. Any changes made since the last version can be found in paragraph 1.2 of the notice.

1. Overview

  • 1.1 Purpose of the Notice: This notice provides information about the Annual Accounting Scheme, detailing who is eligible to use it and the process to apply for it.

  • 1.2 Recent Changes: The contact number for VAT bank giro books enquiries has been updated. Additionally, there have been changes to the VAT helpline numbers.

  • 1.3 The Annual Accounting Scheme: This scheme allows businesses to submit just one VAT Return annually instead of the usual four. It requires businesses to pay instalments towards their expected VAT liability, ensuring they aren't hit with a large bill at the end of the year. The scheme offers flexibility in payment options, either 3 quarterly or 9 monthly instalments, which are to be paid electronically. HMRC will notify businesses of the instalment amounts and due dates. Adjustments can be made if there are discrepancies or changes in the business.

  • 1.4 Benefits of the Scheme: The scheme aids in cash flow management, allows additional voluntary payments, requires only one VAT Return annually, provides an extended submission period for the annual VAT Return, and aligns the VAT year with the business tax year for convenience.

  • 1.5 Considerations: Businesses should maintain their records diligently to avoid year-end complications. Electronic payments are mandatory, and there's an extended submission period for returns.

  • 1.6 Joining the Scheme: Application forms are available in sections 8 and 9 of the notice. Section 9 is for businesses wishing to join both the Annual Accounting and Flat Rate Schemes simultaneously.

2. Conditions and Eligibility

  • 2.1 Eligibility Criteria: Businesses expecting taxable supplies up to £1,350,000 can join the scheme. This amount excludes VAT and doesn't consider exempt supplies or sales of capital assets.

  • 2.2 Calculating Taxable Supplies: For businesses registered for less than 12 months, the estimation method used during VAT registration can be applied. For those registered longer, the previous year's taxable supplies can be used as a reference.

  • 2.3 Future Taxable Supplies: Various methods, including business plans and previous business information, can be used to estimate future taxable supplies.

  • 2.4 Exceeding the Taxable Supplies Limit: Businesses can remain in the scheme until their taxable supplies exceed £1,600,000 annually. If this threshold is surpassed significantly, they may be withdrawn from the scheme at the end of that accounting year.

  • 2.5 Incorrect Estimates: There won't be penalties for incorrect estimates if they were based on reasonable grounds. However, if the estimate lacked a reasonable basis and exceeded the scheme's threshold, immediate removal from the scheme might occur.

3. How the Scheme Works

  • 3.1 Basics: The scheme involves making interim payments throughout the year, followed by a balancing payment after submitting the annual VAT Return.

  • 3.2 Starting the Scheme: The start date for the scheme is usually the first day of the current VAT period when joining.

  • 3.3 Annual Accounting Year End: This typically ends on the last day of the month, 12 months after starting the scheme. However, businesses can request a specific end date to align with their financial year or other considerations.

4. Instalments

  • 4.1 Payment Due Dates: Payments are typically due in 9 instalments of 10% of the previous year's VAT liability. The exact dates and amounts will be communicated by HMRC.

  • 4.2 Instalment Options: Businesses can choose between monthly or quarterly payments, depending on their preference and business needs.

5. Payment Methods

  • 5.1 Choosing a Method: Businesses can select their preferred payment method on the application form. Options include Direct Debit, Standing Order, Bank Giro, CHAPS, or Bacs.

6. Completing the VAT Return

  • 6.1 Filling in the Return: The annual VAT Return should be filled in as usual, without deducting interim payments made during the year.

  • 6.2 Calculating Year-End VAT: The amount in box 5 of the VAT Return indicates the annual VAT due. The balancing payment should be this amount minus the interim payments made throughout the year.

7. Special Circumstances

  • 7.1 Repayment Traders: These are businesses that consistently claim more VAT than they pay. They can join the scheme but won't need to make interim payments if they have an annual repayment position.

8. Application Process

  • 8.1 How to Apply: Businesses can apply online using the Government Gateway or by completing the paper application form VAT 600AA.

This summary provides an overview of the VAT Notice 732. For detailed information and specific scenarios, it's recommended to refer to the official notice on the GOV.UK website.

VAT Notice 732: The Instalments

The VAT Annual Accounting Scheme is designed to simplify the VAT return process for businesses by allowing them to submit just one VAT return each year. Instead of facing a large VAT bill at the end of the year, businesses can make instalments throughout the year. This section delves into the specifics of these instalments.

1. Instalment Basics

Under the Annual Accounting Scheme, businesses have the option to make either 3 quarterly instalments or 9 monthly instalments towards their end-of-year VAT liability. These instalments must be made through Direct Debit, Standing Order, or other electronic means. The HMRC will calculate and inform businesses of the instalment amounts and their due dates. If a business believes the calculated amount is incorrect or if there are significant changes in the business, they can request an amendment to the instalments. Additionally, businesses can make voluntary payments towards their end-of-year VAT bill.

2. Payment Schedules

The standard procedure involves paying 9 instalments, each equivalent to 10% of the previous year's annual VAT liability. The payment schedule is as follows:

  • Monthly payments: Payments are due in the 1st to 9th months of the period.

  • Quarterly payments: Payments are due in the 4th, 7th, and 10th months of the period.

The final payment, which balances out the total VAT liability for the year, is due at the end of the annual accounting period.

3. Calculating Instalment Amounts

For businesses registered for 12 months or more:

  • Monthly instalments: Each instalment is 10% of the previous year's VAT liability.

  • Quarterly instalments: Each instalment is 25% of the previous year's VAT liability.

For businesses registered for less than 12 months, the instalments are based on an estimation of the expected VAT liability, calculated in the same percentages as mentioned above.

4. Adjusting Instalment Amounts

It's crucial for businesses to ensure that their instalment payments accurately reflect their VAT liability. If the interim payments are set too low, a larger balancing payment will be required at the end of the year. Conversely, if the payments are set too high, businesses might be paying more than necessary. If there's a disagreement with the instalment amount or if there's a significant change in the VAT liability during the year, businesses should contact the Annual Accounting Registration Unit. The instalments can then be adjusted accordingly.

5. Significant Business Changes

If a business undergoes significant changes that affect its VAT payments, it's essential to notify the Annual Accounting Registration Unit immediately. Such changes might include a rise in the value of taxable supplies above £1,600,000 or an increase in VAT payable by 10% since the last instalment calculation. In such cases, interim payments will be amended to reflect the new liability.

6. Voluntary Payments

Businesses have the flexibility to make voluntary payments at any time. These payments can be made in multiples of £5 through various methods, including Bank Giro Credit, CHAPS, or Bacs.

7. Payment Methods

Businesses can choose from several payment methods, including Direct Debit, Standing Order, Bank Giro, CHAPS, or Bacs. The chosen method should ensure timely payments, and businesses are generally expected to stick to their chosen method for at least a year. If a payment is missed, a reminder will be sent, and the late payment must be made via CHAPS or Bacs.

8. Changes and Notifications

It's essential for businesses to keep the Annual Accounting Registration Unit informed of any changes, such as bank details or changes in interim payment amounts. If a business is not paying by Direct Debit and there's a change in the instalment amount during the year, the bank must be contacted to ensure the correct amount is paid on time.

In conclusion, the instalment system under the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme offers businesses a structured and manageable way to handle their VAT liabilities. By understanding the intricacies of the instalment process, businesses can ensure timely payments and avoid potential pitfalls.

The Merits and Demerits of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme

The VAT Annual Accounting Scheme is a payment system initiated by the UK government designed to simplify VAT reporting for businesses. Instead of the standard quarterly VAT returns, businesses under this scheme submit just one VAT return per year. This discussion outlines the main advantages and disadvantages of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme, providing a balanced view of the system.

Advantages of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme

Simplified Accounting

The scheme simplifies accounting procedures by reducing the frequency of VAT return submissions. This allows business owners more time to focus on their core operations, enhancing productivity and profitability.

Improved Cash Flow Management

With the Annual Accounting Scheme, businesses make advance VAT payments throughout the year based on estimated liabilities. These regular, predictable payments enable better cash flow management and financial forecasting.

Reduced Administrative Burden

Under the scheme, businesses are saved from the administrative pressure of preparing and submitting four VAT returns per year. This reduction in paperwork can lead to substantial time and cost savings.

Fewer Errors and Penalties

By submitting one VAT return per year, the chances of making errors and consequently, the likelihood of incurring penalties can be significantly reduced. This can be particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses with limited accounting resources.

Disadvantages of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme

Inaccuracy of Advance Payments

One major disadvantage is the potential inaccuracy of the advance payments, which are based on the previous year's VAT liability. If a business experiences a drop in sales, it may end up overpaying VAT.

Cash Flow Disadvantages for Some Businesses

While the scheme can aid cash flow management, it could also have negative impacts. Businesses used to reclaiming VAT on a quarterly basis may experience cash flow issues, as they have to wait until the end of the year to claim back their VAT.

Limited Flexibility

Once a business is locked into the scheme for a year, it must abide by its rules, which could prove problematic if business circumstances change dramatically during that period.

Constraints on Eligibility

Not all businesses are eligible for the scheme. Those with a VAT taxable turnover of more than £1.35 million per year are excluded, limiting the scheme's applicability to smaller businesses.

In evaluating the merits and demerits of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme, it becomes apparent that the decision to adopt it is highly dependent on individual business circumstances. The scheme presents clear benefits such as simplified accounting and improved cash flow management. However, potential disadvantages include inaccurate advance payments and limited flexibility. It is therefore crucial for businesses to consider their specific operational context, financial status, and growth projections before opting into the scheme.

The Need for Expertise in VAT Annual Accounting

The Need for Expertise in VAT Annual Accounting

Navigating the intricacies of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme can be a complex task, requiring a deep understanding of financial and tax legislation. Tax professionals are well-versed in the intricacies of the scheme and stay updated with the changes in regulations. They can assist businesses in accurately calculating and making payments on time, avoiding potential pitfalls that may lead to fines or penalties. Their knowledge and expertise can be an invaluable assets, enabling businesses to focus more on their core operations.

The Advantage of Time Efficiency

Taking on VAT accounting tasks can consume significant time, particularly for businesses without a dedicated accounting team. By enlisting the assistance of a tax professional, businesses can free up time that would otherwise be spent on VAT compliance. The time saved can be better utilised in the planning and execution of growth strategies, effectively improving business efficiency.

Error Reduction and Compliance Assurance

Incorrect calculations or missed deadlines in VAT payments can lead to hefty penalties and can harm a business's reputation. Professional help ensures accurate calculations and adherence to all legal requirements, reducing the risk of errors and penalties. They also keep track of changes in legislation, ensuring that your business stays compliant at all times.

Strategic Decision-making

Besides assisting with compliance and calculations, tax professionals also provide strategic insights for businesses. They can provide advice on the most tax-efficient practices and guidance on matters such as whether it would be beneficial to remain on the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme or switch to a different scheme. These insights can aid in more informed and effective decision-making.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK is a potentially beneficial system for small and medium-sized businesses. However, navigating through its intricacies can be challenging. A tax accountant can play a crucial role in helping you understand, implement, and maximise the benefits of the scheme. This article will explore how a tax accountant can assist with the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme.

Understanding the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme

Navigating the Complexities

A tax accountant can help demystify the complexities of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme, ensuring that you fully understand the terms, conditions, and obligations. They can explain the differences between the standard quarterly returns and annual accounting, highlighting the advantages and potential drawbacks pertinent to your business situation.

Assessing Eligibility

Not all businesses can opt for this scheme. A tax accountant can assess your business's eligibility based on the turnover threshold and other relevant conditions. They can provide professional advice on whether the scheme is suitable for your business's needs and growth prospects.

Implementing the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme

Setting Up the Scheme

A tax accountant can handle the procedural steps involved in setting up the Annual Accounting Scheme. They will ensure that the application is correctly filled out and submitted within the specified time frame, streamlining the entire process.

Calculating VAT Payments

VAT payments under the scheme are calculated based on estimated annual VAT liabilities. A tax accountant can accurately compute these amounts, ensuring that you do not overpay or underpay your VAT.

Maximising the Benefits of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme

Improved Cash Flow Management

A tax accountant can assist in planning and managing your cash flow effectively under this scheme. By accurately predicting your VAT liability, they can prevent unforeseen financial complications.

Accurate VAT Returns

Preparing an annual VAT return can be a complex task. A tax accountant can meticulously compile and submit your VAT return, ensuring compliance with regulations and reducing the risk of errors that could lead to penalties.

Claiming VAT Refunds

If you're entitled to a VAT refund, a tax accountant can manage the claim process efficiently. They can identify eligible expenses, accurately calculate your refund, and liaise with the tax authority on your behalf.

Mitigating the Potential Drawbacks

Adjusting VAT Payments

If your business circumstances change significantly during the year, your estimated VAT payments may not reflect your actual liability. A tax accountant can help adjust these payments in line with the fluctuations in your business.

Handling Unexpected Complications

Unforeseen issues may arise while using the scheme, such as inquiries or audits from the tax authority. A tax accountant can handle these situations, ensuring your business stays compliant with all regulations.

In the world of complex tax regimes, the guidance of a tax accountant can be invaluable. From understanding and implementing the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme to maximising its benefits and mitigating potential drawbacks, an accountant's expertise can lead your business towards smoother financial operations and increased compliance. Ultimately, their assistance can help you focus on the core activities of your business while they take care of the intricate details of your VAT obligations.

Choosing the Right Professional Help

It's crucial to select a tax professional who has extensive knowledge of the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme. Look for certified accountants or tax advisers who specialise in VAT matters. They should have a proven track record of assisting businesses in your industry. Check their qualifications, and experience, and ask for references if possible.

Reputable professionals will be more than willing to discuss their services in detail, including the scope of their work, their fees, and the process they use to keep updated with changes in tax legislation. Also, they should be able to communicate effectively, explaining complex tax issues in terms that they understand.

Getting professional help for the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme in the UK can be a strategic move that offers a myriad of benefits. With their in-depth understanding of the scheme and tax legislation, professionals can provide valuable guidance, ensure compliance, and help in strategic decision-making. However, choosing the right professional is key to reaping these benefits. Be thorough in your selection process to find a competent professional who fits your business's needs.


The VAT Annual Accounting Scheme is a beneficial system for many businesses in the UK, simplifying the VAT return process and reducing administrative work. However, it's essential for businesses to assess their individual circumstances and consult with a tax adviser or accountant to determine if this scheme is the right fit for them. As always, staying updated with the latest information from the UK government's website is crucial to ensure compliance with all VAT regulations.

bottom of page