VAT Direct - How it works - documentation

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Important: If you have not joined MTD the links to HMRC's computers wont work (apart from Hello)

Our intention is to ensure that the pages are self-explanatory. However, at times it helps to have a bit more of an explanation and that is what this page is about.

Each organisation using our system has a separate web domain. We call these organisations "system operators". Within the web domain it is possible to have more than one person who is allowed to use the system (User). Also the system can handle more than one business. We call businesses "legal entities". When you register on the system it will create a legal entity automatically. It then links that legal entity to the user name and password that were used to create the account. You can create more legal entities. One way of doing this is to right click on a legal entity on the list of legal entities and then pick the option to create another one. Similarly if you wish to change the name of the legal entity then right click on the name and pick the option to change it.

To be able to submit a VAT return you need to change the fixed information for a legal entity and make sure that the VAT number is right.

The system has a facility to submit a test VAT return to a test HMRC server to make sure everything is working. Test returns are always stuck in 2017. It is a good idea to use a test return if you are checking the formats of input files. If you wish to do a test return: a) Make sure you are in test mode (go to the Vat Return page and select test rather than live in the box at the top of the page) b) Go to "manage authorisations" and click on "create test user" this will create a test User on HMRC's computers and get that user authorised for reading and writing vat information. Then go to the vat return page and submit a test return. When you create a test user it overwrites the VAT number on your legal entity to the test value. Hence if you want to use the system for live activity you need to put the vat number back.

Before you can get any information from HMRC you need to use the Manage Authorisations page to authorise your user account and legal entity for read and write VAT.

We will update this information as time goes by and we learn what needs more explanation.

.Click here to see all the training videos

Note that legal entities are now live or test rather than the user session being in live or test mode (changed late Feb 2019)

Sending a live VAT return

Hence, in summary, to submit a live vat return
  1. Make sure the business you want to submit a vat return for is set up on the list of legal entities and that the vat number is right on the Vat Data Page. If you have more than one legal entity you may need to go to the list and click on one to make sure that you get the data page for the right legal entity. If you look at the URL (web address) you will see the key number for the legal entity.
  2. Use Manage Authorisations to tell HMRC's computers to respond to Cirrostratus's server. This only has to be done once every 18 months. Make sure the legal entity is a live mode legal entity. There is an option on the page which updates the fixed information to switch between live and test.
  3. Get your VAT return into a spreadsheet or CSV file so that you can transfer it digitally
  4. Use Submit Vat Retun to send the VAT return to the tax people. Make sure you are in live mode.

Sending a test VAT return

Hence, in summary, to submit a test vat return
  1. It is worth setting up a test business on the list of legal entities
  2. Use Manage Authorisations to create a test user on HMRC's servers. Make sure the legal entity is a live mode legal entity. There is an option on the page which updates the fixed information to switch between live and test. There is a button that appears on that page in test mode for creating a test user, click it.
  3. Download the test CSV file (which you can then change if you wish, but be careful about the VAT number in VRNVERIFY. There is a link for this on both Manage Authorisations and Submit Vat Return
  4. Use Submit Vat Retun to send the VAT return to the HMRC's test server. Make sure you are in test mode.

Authorities and Signing up to MTD etc

It can be a bit confusing as to why things don't work when they don't work. We have written a page which tries to work out what is going on.That page is the "Check Authorities" page. Please be careful loading this page as it calls a lot of HMRC Apis. It does this to work out which ones areworking and which ones are not. For example if you are not in MTD you can run 'say hello' but not anything else.

Tips and Suggestions

The server can prompt you for particular processess. This is where a "tips and suggestions" box appears on a page and will clickthe right links or buttons on the page to do something. When this is running a journey is identified after the question mark in the web address. A list of journeys can be found below this.

Tips and Suggestions

Click here to go to the client login page (which has lots of videos on it)

These are other pages you might find useful Manage Authorisations |Manage VAT |Submit VAT Return |See previous VAT Returns |See VAT payments |See VAT data |List Legal Entities |See How it Works |See Liabilities |Check authorities |Generic Return (or Amendment) Submission Page |Basic information about Self AssesmentThese are other pages you might find useful Customer Relationship Manager |Switch Board |Manage Phone Lines |Extension Switch Board |User Message Folder |Short Login |Contact status page |Review user Profiles |Client Information for the user |