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What is the problem with Vat that we have to exit the bookkeeping software and file using the gateway?

At a meeting sometime ago of the Agents strategy Group a representative of HMRC asked the assembled group why it was that so many businesses and accountants actually were using software to prepare their records which was capable of preparing and filing a vat return but yet significant numbers would still exit the software and then file the return via the gateway. He ended by saying something to the effect that “after all, it’s only 9 boxes how hard could it be”

The vat practitioners who were at the meeting then managed in under 5 minutes to point out how most standard bookkeeping packages where perfectly fine for standard businesses but when it came down to anything out of the ordinary the effort required to amend the package to produce the correct answer was disproportionate to the time it took to simply make the amendments on paper and then file the resultant answer via the gateway.

When I ask Accountants why they use the gateway rather than file from within the package again the answer is the same, it takes longer to amend the actual records than it takes to work out the amendment and file accordingly and this is most definitely the case when errors in question are in relation to boxes 6, 7, 8 and 9.

So with April 1919 confirmed as the start date for filing Vat from within software is it not time that either the software houses brought pressure to bear to make the Return simpler or they spend some time looking inwards at their software and made it easier to use going forward else 2019 could see a lot of returns being subject to scrutiny.

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