Friday 8 January 2016

VAT Moss nightmare

VAT Moss is a nightmare.

It came about because the powers that be, realised that when a sale is made electronically from the UK to, for example, to Germany, the VAT rate paid should be the VAT rate in Germany, and it should be paid to the German tax authorities. Hurrah for the European Community. And HMRC, realising that people like me having to make 27 different payments in 27 different ways to 27 different tax authorities was not going to fly, set up the VAT Mini One Stop Shop, so I can do all 27 in one place, which is nice.

Then they didn't bother to tell anyone about the change. I found out two days before it was due to come in, because ladysolly's bridge club had to suspend accepting payments for a while because of this. I was lucky - I just needed to modify my software to collect the data, and writing software is one of the few things I'm able to do.

The first time I tried to do the VAT Moss dance, I made several mistakes, which we eventually untangled. The next two times I got it pretty much right.

I collect the necessary data each time I do a billing, making note of the country and amount. Then, at the end of each quarter, I do a spreadsheet to work out  the total for each of the 27 EC countries (but not the UK, that's done in a different payment).

I've recently synchronised the two; my VAT used to be September to November while VAT Moss was October to December, but I've now set it up so that both are done in October to December. Of course, that means that for one time only, I pay the VAT Moss for three months, and the VAT for four. Horrible calculations.

So this week, I wanted to do my tax payments for the fourth quarter, 2015. I won't say I enjoy paying tax, but I can see the necessity; how else could MP's expenses be funded?

The first step was to calculate the VAT Moss for October-December, and I did that, and then I tried to feed that to the HMRC web site. In the past, I've done this country by country, but now I see that I can just submit a spreadsheet in a format they give me, so I can do it as one lump. Hurrah! It means I can automate the creation of that spreadsheet; less work for me, more work for the computer. Ideal. So I tried that, and ran into two problems.

The first was that it wanted all numbers to be to two decimal places (e.g. £123.45). But because we're working with non-round numbers, mine are to umpteen decimal places. I know how to fix that, it's called rounding. But then I ran into a worse problem.

For each line of the VAT submission, you have to give your VAT number.  I tried that, and it rejected it. Then I noticed that it says "Enter that VAT Registration Number of your fixed establishment (including country prefix eg DE for Germany). So instead of giving my VAT reg code as 123456789 I gave it as UK123456789. Rejected. 123456789UK. Rejected. So I googled a bit, and found that I should use GB, so I tried GB123456789. Rejected. 123456789GB. Rejected.

Wouldn't it have been nice if they gave an example of what I should be putting here? And if the example was for *this* country, not for Germany?

So at that point, I gave up and did it the old way, by hand. It only takes an hour or so, but that's an hour I could have been spending playing Civilization. I've asked the nice HMRC people how this should be done, but they've referred the question (without actually knowing what the question is yet) to their tech people, and I'm not expecting an answer any time soon.

So after tediously entering in all the data, it gave me a total to pay, which sounded right, and that's when I blundered.

I paid it.

By debit card.

What I'd forgotten, is that although you can pay pretty much any HMRC tax bill by credit or debit card, you can't pay VAT Moss that way. There's a whole complicated procedure for paying, and it doesn't involve plastic cards.

So the payment went through, but heaven knows where it went. I had to call HMRC to ask nicely to have it back, because I've paid them a bunch of money and they must be wondering what it's for.

Now I have to do my VAT (as distinct from VAT Moss) and pay that.

I'm hoping that it will be easier for me next quarter, because they'll be synchronised, and because I've put a note in my procedure "DO NOT PAY BY CARD".

And maybe I can even do it by uploading a spreadsheet?

1 comment:

  1. "how else could MP's expenses be funded?" - ha ha, best laugh I've had in ages. Our MP is, of course, the one who claimed £17 for a pepper pot for his London pad and had to pay that back, along with his other fiddles. He is now a big wig in the Treasury.