What is a VAT return?

Definition of a VAT return

A VAT return is a form you file with HMRC, usually four times a year, to show how much VAT you are due to pay them. If you're not registered for VAT, you won't file VAT returns.

The VAT return shows the calculation of the amount of VAT due on sales minus the amount of VAT reclaimable on purchases. The result is the amount payable to HMRC.

If the amount reclaimable on purchases is more than the amount due on sales, HMRC will give you the difference back!

How to file your VAT return

You can file your VAT return through HMRC's own website, or can use an online accounting service like FreeAgent which will help you fill in your VAT return, then allow you to submit it directly to HMRC for you.

Example of a VAT return

Example VAT return

This VAT return example was created using FreeAgent.

Got questions? Ask Emily!

FreeAgent's Chief Accountant Emily Coltman is available to answer your questions in the comments.

Bookkeeping and tax tips

We'll keep your email safe · Read our privacy policy