V5.102 VAT returns—prescribed accounting periods
Submission of VAT returns
Meaning of 'prescribed accounting period'
A prescribed accounting period is the period by reference to which a taxable person accounts for and pays tax in respect of acquisitions, and supplies made, by him1. Regulations made under VATA 1994, s 25(1) and Sch 11, para 2(1), (7) define the length and frequency of prescribed accounting periods2 and the events which terminate them3. A person who is, or is or was required to be, registered must make a return in respect of every prescribed accounting period4.
Length and frequency of prescribed accounting periods
A person's first prescribed accounting period commences on the date from which he is, or is liable to be, registered5. The length and frequency of prescribed accounting periods is determined in accordance with the following provisions.
Unregistered taxable persons6
An unregistered taxable person has a prescribed accounting period which corresponds with the calendar quarters7, ie three-month periods ended on 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December each year8.
Registered taxable persons (other than those specified in (i) to (iii) below)
Unless HMRC allow or direct otherwise9, a registered taxable person has three-month prescribed accounting periods ending on the dates notified either in his registration certificate or in some other manner10. Where a direction is to be made, it must be specific; a letter to the taxpayer stating that a period 'was likely' to be more than three months did not amount to a direction11.
For administrative convenience, registered persons are allocated to one of three 'stagger
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