At the start of the pandemic, VAT registered businesses were given the option of deferring payment of any VAT that fell due in the period from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. Self-assessment taxpayers were also given the option of delaying their second payment on account for 2019/20, which was due by 31 July 2020. In his Winter Economy Plan, the Chancellor extended the deadlines by which the deferred tax must be paid, giving further help to those struggling to pay their tax bills as a result of Coronavirus.
VAT-registered businesses which took advantage of the opportunity to delay paying VAT that fell due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 were originally required to pay the deferred VAT by 31 March 2021. However, there is now another option for those for whom this presents a challenge, and they can instead pay the deferred VAT in smaller equal instalments up to the end of March 2022. Those wishing to take advantage of the instalment option will need to opt into the scheme; failure to do this will mean that the VAT owed will need to be repaid by 31 March 2021. Where businesses are able, they can if they so wish pay the deferred VAT in full by 31 March 2021.
Depending on the business’ VAT quarter dates, deferred VAT will relate to the quarter ending 29 February 2020, the quarter ending 31 March 2020 or the quarter ending 30 April 2020. VAT due after 30 June 2020 (i.e. for the quarter to 31 May 2020 and subsequent quarters) must be paid in full and on time. Where direct debits were cancelled, these should be reinstated if this has not already been done.
Regardless of whether the instalment option is chosen or not, the deferred VAT will need to be paid in addition to the usual VAT payments, and it is prudent to budget for this.
Under the original proposals, self-assessment taxpayers could delay paying their second payment on account for 2019/20 due by 31 July 2020 and instead pay it by 31 January 2021, along with any balancing payment due for 2019/20 and the first payment on account due for 2020/21. For some taxpayers who have been affected financially by the pandemic, this will be something of a stretch. In recognition of this, self-assessment taxpayers who are finding it difficult to pay what they owe can set up an automatic time to pay arrangement online, as long as they do not owe more than £30,000 in tax.