When to submit your VAT return

By Tom Holmes, Managing Director of Ballymount Accounting

Since the 1st June 2012, following the implementation of Phase 4 of the mandatory electronic filing & paying by the Revenue Commissioners, all VAT registered businesses have to file their VAT returns using the Revenue Online Service (ROS). This has meant the end of the light green VAT return form (VAT3) arriving through the post together with the pre paid Collector General envelope. For most small business people this was the reminder to take the time to bring their books up date and “do the VAT”. Nowadays people have to be aware that the latest filing deadline for all online VAT filers is the 23rd day of the month after a VAT period. For example – for the VAT period July/August 2013, this return will need to be online filed & paid by the 23rd of Sept 2013 and so on.

From as far back as 2007 the Revenue Commissioners had being making provision for VAT registered businesses to reduce the frequency of VAT returns to be filed. Up until then all VAT registered businesses had no option but to file their returns every two months i.e. January/February, March/April and so on. The criteria the Revenue Commissioners now apply when assessing whether VAT registered businesses can qualify for reduced filing frequency is as follows:

When to submit VAT return

  • Businesses making total annual VAT payments of less than €3,000 are eligible to file VAT returns and make their payments on a 6 monthly basis i.e. 2 returns per annum
  • Businesses making total annual VAT payments of between €3,001 and €14,400 are eligible to file VAT returns and make their payments on a 4 monthly basis i.e. 3 returns per annum
  • Businesses making total annual VAT payments of over €14,401 will remain on the standard 2 monthly basis i.e. 6 returns per annum

The Revenue Commissioners say that there is no need for businesses to take any action in relation to applying for a reduced filing & payment frequency as they will extend this facility to eligible businesses automatically. If however a business owner feels that after the Revenue moving them to a reduced filing frequency that they do not want to continue with this change, they can contact their local VAT office and ask to have their old frequency restored from the next available VAT period onwards.

The rationale behind implementing such a change to VAT filing frequencies is as follows:

  • An improvement to business cashflow by only having to make payments at the end of each 4 or 6 monthly VAT period, as appropriate.
  • Reduced administration costs for businesses through less frequent filing of VAT returns.
  • Frees up time for the Revenue Commissioners to devote more attention to audit and compliance activities.

As online filing applies to virtually all VAT registered businesses it is very important that business owners are aware of the VAT filing frequency for their own businesses – this can be found quite easily on the ROS system or by a quick phone call to their local VAT office.

Tom Holmes

Managing Director of Ballymount Accounting

Tom Holmes, the managing director of Ballymount Accounting, is a graduate of University of Limerick having obtained a Business Studies degree and is also a member of the Association of the Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Tom has a vast amount of experience dealing with the SME sector and the issues that face these types of businesses from their establishment to their ongoing growth & development.


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  • Tracey Glacken

    Brian, you will need to contact Revenue in order to change this. Usually they review your VAT liability over a 12 month period and base the VAT return frequency on this.

  • Brian

    Hi, great new about being able to file your VAT less frequently if the liability falls into a certain bracket. However when I go to ROS to try and submit a 4 monthly return, under taxation period it still only gives an option to select a 2 month period and not 4 or 6? Is there a workaround for this?

    • Tom Holmes

      Hello Brian, yeah as Tracey has indicated you need to make contact with the Revenue to get the VAT return frequency changed – it is not something you can automatically choose yourself. If you previous annual VAT liability falls within the parameters as per my article then the Revenue should make the chage! Hope this is OK Tom