April 2 2012.

From 1 April 2012, all VAT-registered businesses must submit their VAT returns to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) via its online portal only.

Every VAT-registered trader, not already required to submit online, should have received a letter from HMRC in February, advising them of the change, and what steps they need to take.

To submit a VAT return online, taxpayers need to be registered and enrolled for HMRC's VAT Online Service at www.online.hmrc.gov.uk by clicking 'register' under the 'new user' section.

Online filing has a number of benefits, compared to paper filing, namely an automatic acknowledgement that a return has been received; a sum checker; and an email alert to remind taxpayers when their next online return is due (as, after April, HMRC will stop sending out paper returns).

More information is available at www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/online-return-help.pdf