HMCE is looking to increase electronic VAT filing to cut its own costs, and wants more than half of UK businesses to file electronically by March 2006.
Michael Eland, acting chairman of HMCE, told the Public Accounts Committee that it was considering incentives to encourage take-up but may enforce electronic filing on certain firms.
‘We will look at a mandatory scheme in some areas for certain types of business. We’re looking to get 50 per cent take-up by March 2006,’ he said.
This is most likely to be aimed at large companies with sophisticated IT systems.
Small businesses may be reluctant to move away from the relatively easy-to-use paper-based system.
Simon Gay, consultancy practice leader at Computacenter, said although electronic VAT returns should be easy to process, some companies may need to update their systems.
‘If it becomes mandatory then it’s hugely important that companies have the right systems in place to ensure it works,’ he said.
But Eddie Pacey, director of credit services at Bell Microproducts Europe, said: ‘Filing electronically shouldn’t be much harder. In fact, electronic data transfer will make the process more secure and quicker.’
Reseller ISC Networks said that it was considering filing electronically.
A spokeswoman for the company said: ‘All you need is a PC and access to the internet. There’s little training required as the forms on the website are the same as the ones available in hard copy.’
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