The simple answer is no; HMRC mandate a digital chain end-to-end.

However, you are allowed to manage your VAT in a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice or OpenOffice for example. You then export the VAT return data to a file and use our MTD VAT filing software to upload that file and submit to HMRC. You are not allowed to edit the exported file or create it manually.

Your accounting or spreadsheet software will most likely export VAT return data in various formats. We require data in a CSV or plain text file. See our FAQ How do I create a file to upload? for further information.

For further details of digital record keeping we recommend you have a look at:
"Section 4: Digital record keeping" of VAT Notice 700/22: Making Tax Digital for VAT

Note that you should always refer to the latest notices from HMRC.

If you manage your data in a spreadsheet, follow the instructions below to create a file you can upload with our software to submit your VAT return.

Step 1: Create a separate page in your spreadsheet containing only the nine VAT figures needed for your VAT return. These numbers should be created using links to data on other pages of your file (in other words they are computed, or updated, automatically as you enter your sales and purchase figures in other parts of your file). It is crucial that you do not create this page by manually entering these numbers (HMRC won't like it!). There should be no other figures or any text on this page. We are expecting only nine VAT figures in order (BOX1 to BOX9) in the file. As per the VAT Return, the last four numbers (BOX6 to BOX9) should be whole pounds only.

Step 2: When you are ready to submit your VAT return, save the page to a CSV or plain text file. You can do this in most spreadsheet software (e.g. Excel, OpenOffice, LibreOffice) by using the 'Save As' button and selecting the 'Save as type' option and choosing CSV or plain text. Only the current tab will be saved (which is what you want).

Once you have this file you can upload it using our software and submit your VAT return. We recommend you retain the uploaded file as part of your audit trail.

We don't process spreadsheets directly.

Please see our FAQ How do I create a file to upload? for details on how to create an upload file.

Yes. Whatever spreadsheet software you have, you should be able to create a CSV or plain text file containing your nine VAT return figures (which is all we need in the file). This is the file you upload on our website to submit your VAT return.

Please see our FAQ How do I create a file to upload? for details on how to create an upload file.

Your file should be a plain text file or in CSV format. CSV stands for Comma Separated Variables, and is essentially a plain text file in which data is separated by commas.
If you manage your VAT data using spreadsheets (for example, Microsoft Excel), you will be able to export the data to a plain text file or CSV format. Professional accounting software packages should also allow you to export data to CSV.

Your file should have nine entries.

Here is an example of what your file should look like (shown with sample entries):


OR (with currency symbol):


That's it!

The nine entries are identified in order as follows:

  • Box1 is the 'vatDueSales' figure (must be pounds and pence)
  • Box2 is the 'vatDueAcquisitions' figure (must be pounds and pence)
  • Box3 is the 'totalVatDue' figure (sum of Box1 and Box2, this will be computed, but put something in the box, e.g. 'computed')
  • Box4 is the 'vatReclaimedCurrPeriod' figure (must be pounds and pence)
  • Box5 is the 'netVatDue' figure (the difference between Box3 and Box4, this will be computed, but put something in the box, e.g. 'computed'))
  • Box6 is the 'totalValueSalesExVAT' figure (must be whole pounds only)
  • Box7 is the 'totalValuePurchasesExVAT' figure (must be whole pounds only)
  • Box8 is the 'totalValueGoodsSuppliedExVAT' figure (must be whole pounds only)
  • Box9 is the 'totalAcquisitionsExVAT' figure (must be whole pounds only)

You will be presented with the data imported from your file in tabular form, and you will be asked to confirm the data before it is submitted to HMRC. You can check here ➤ to see if your file is compatible with our services.

Some other points to note:

  • Box3 and Box5 are computed, but the entry must still be present (you can put anything there, text or number, it will be overwritten).
  • Beware with negative entries. Negative entries are permitted but are not normally required. In any case, you MUST check your BOX3 and BOX5 numbers (which we compute).
  • Spurious spaces and tabs (white characters) and blank lines are ignored, so don't worry too much about alignment or presentation.
  • Numbers must be decimals (two decimal places only) or integers. Numbers in scientific notation will be rejected.
  • The VAT number may be present in the file as the first entry. So we expect either nine entries in the file (no VAT number), or ten entries (when the VAT number is present as the first entry). There should be no other data in the file.

This is the last piece of the jigsaw required for MTD for VAT.
Many accounting software packages can export VAT return data to a file, you then use bridging software such as ours to submit that data to HMRC.
Some accounting software incorporate this last step, so you can manage VAT returns entirely from within the accounting package.

You can use our services if your accounting package does not submit MTD VAT returns directly to HMRC.
For example, you may use a spreadsheet to manage your VAT data. In this case you can export the VAT return data from the spreadsheet to a plain text or CSV file.

This is described in detail in "Section 4: Digital record keeping" of VAT Notice 700/22: Making Tax Digital for VAT
Note that you should always refer to the latest notices from HMRC.

The first step in the sign in process requires you to supply an email address and password. This is in common with many sign in methods.
To enhance account security a second step is implemented. The two-step process is referred to as two-factor authentication (2FA).

The second step can be implemented in different ways (for example, SMS text). We use the Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP), which is generated locally by an app (the authenticator app) running on your phone or tablet. To sign into your account requires you to enter your email and password (the first step) and then the one-time password from the authenticator app (the second step). If cyber criminals somehow manage to acquire your username/password credentials, they will not be able to access your account without this additional security step.

2FA significantly enhances the security on your account.

The second step in 2FA requires you to install an authenticator app on your phone or tablet. The good news is that any authenticator app you choose should work, but you should obviously only install one from a trusted source. We have tested the following (in no particular order):

Google Authenticator App
Microsoft Authenticator App
Twilio Authy 2-Factor Authenticator App
2FAS Authenticator App
FreeOTP Authenticator App

Other authenticator apps exist. The apps are easy to use and, at the time of checking, all of the above are free and none require an account. It is recommended that you use an app that has an access lock, such as a PIN. Also, you may wish to choose an authenticator that works across multiple platforms.

If you're already using an authenticator app, that's great, otherwise you will need to install one before you can start using our MTD for VAT bridging software. Some password managers have integrated 2FA authenticators built-in, if so, you do not need to install a separate app.

You can find out more about 2FA by searching online. Search also for TOTP (Time-based One-time Password).

During registration you will be asked to setup two-factor authentication. This is usually done by scanning a QR code with a two-factor authentication app installed on your smartphone or other device, but you can do it manually. We present both the QR code (for you to scan) and the key itself in plain text so that you can configure your authenticator app manually if desired.

If you do not have access to a two-factor authentication app, you can setup a PC to do the same as follows:

Step 1: On a PC, install the WinAuth executable (download from WinAuth is an alternative to using a smartphone 2FA application.

Step 2: When you register for an account with SafeAccounts, we present you with a secret authentication key unique to you. You should copy the key and use it to add an entry in WinAuth.

Step 3: Once setup, WinAuth generates the authentication codes just like the standard 2FA apps on smartphones.

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Last updated: 13 May 2022 at 22:00