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Use the bridging software to submit a VAT return in QuickBooks Online

SOLVEDby QuickBooks130Updated September 20, 2023

Learn how to submit a VAT return under Making Tax Digital (MTD) through the bridging software in QuickBooks Online. This page will take you through everything you need to know when using the tool, including how to:

The bridging software is a tool used to link digital tax records to HMRC's systems in an MTD-compliant way. You can use QuickBooks as a bridging solution to import your VAT amounts from spreadsheets and submit MTD VAT returns electronically.

Before you start, make sure you have:
Set up VAT
Set up MTD for VAT
• Your Excel or CSV file containing the 9 boxes that make up your VAT return

Submit a VAT return using the bridging software

  1. Go to Taxes, and then select VAT (Take me there).
  2. Select the Returns tab.
  3. Look for the open return and select the ▼ dropdown arrow under the Action column.
  4. Select Submit with a spreadsheet.
  5. Select Browse to open and upload your file.
  6. Select Next.
  7. Using the dropdown, select the sheet with a summary of all 9 boxes.
  8. On your computer, open the spreadsheet and make a note of which cell the final figure for Box 1 is in.
  9. Back in QuickBooks, map your spreadsheet to the 9 boxes. Map the first cell (Box 1) and we’ll do the rest for you.
  10. Select Review return.
  11. When you’re ready submit, select the box to declare that the info is true and complete.
  12. Select Submit to HMRC.
  13. Select Done.

That’s it! You’ve successfully submitted your VAT return through the bridging software.

Here are some steps you can take if you're having trouble submitting a return through the bridging solution.

HMRC will reject VAT return submissions that have negative values and amounts in Box 8 and 9. Make sure there are no negative values in those boxes.

Make sure your books are open in QuickBooks Online. If they're closed, you won't be able to make changes or submit a return. To check this:

  1. Select the gear icon, select Account and settings.
  2. Select the Advanced tab.
  3. Select Edit ✎ in the Accounting section.
  4. Switch off Close the books.
  5. Select Save.

You have to turn FRS off before you can upload the Excel or CSV file and submit to HMRC. To do this:

  1. Go to Taxes and select VAT (Take me there).
  2. Select Edit VAT, and then Edit settings.
  3. Under the Other tax options section, untick the FRS box.
  4. Select Save. Remember to turn this back on after you submit your VAT return.

If you're having trouble filing your VAT return and need to make an urgent submission, try these options:

  1. Make adjustments in the appropriate boxes on your return.
  2. Enter the transactions for the period with the gross sales along with the necessary VAT code. 

Be sure to use the right VAT codes for your transactions. Here's a full list of all the VAT codes and rates available in QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online bridging software is a tool used to link business records to HMRC systems in an MTD-compliant way. This acts as a 'bridge' and provides a digital link between data stored in spreadsheets and HMRC, and allows data to be submitted digitally. QuickBooks bridging tool is an a HMRC-recognised software that is compatible for Making Tax Digital for VAT.

Our bridging solution is simple and effective. In a few steps you can upload the amounts needed for boxes 1 to 9, and send your return to HMRC in QuickBooks in an MTD-complaint way. You don't need to copy and paste the information, and you can use and import both CSV or Excel spreadsheets through our bridging tool.

If your VAT submission is successful, you'll receive a notification for your records. You can also use the bridging solution to submit VAT returns for schemes that may not be supported by QuickBooks or other solutions.

A digital link is the transfer or exchange of data between software programs or applications and HMRC to create an end-to-end digital reporting process. A digital link doesn't need manual intervention (like copying and pasting data by hand). To learn more about digital links, check out the HMRC website

Manual intervention is when you have to enter information by hand, or manually move data between two pieces of software or application.

Our bridging software solution is only available for those with a QuickBooks subscription. If you would like to use only the bridging solution to submit VAT returns, you can sign up for a subscription on our website.

The bridging solution will import the finalised VAT figures (values of Box 1 to 9) into QuickBooks. From there, you can do a final check before submitting them to HMRC. The bridging solution won't convert VAT transactions held in a spreadsheet into QuickBooks data. If you have transactional data held in a spreadsheet, you can bring it into QuickBooks using the existing CSV import feature in QuickBooks.

There's no additional cost for using the bridging solution. All you need is a QuickBooks Online subscription and you are ready to go.

Yes, business owners will be able to use the bridging software independently or with an accountant.

QuickBooks is here to help small businesses comply with Making Tax Digital for VAT, in the way that makes the most sense for them. Our top priority is to make the process easy and accessible for all. QuickBooks is already an HMRC recognised, MTD-ready software.

Our bridging solution is a feature within our suite of MTD-ready software that helps address the needs of businesses by helping to ensure they remain compliant, while giving them more time to fully migrate their data into QuickBooks Online and experience the wide ranging benefits of cloud accounting.

No. The bridging solution can only be used for VAT as required by MTD. It cannot be used for any other tax submissions.

The HMRC VAT Notice 700/22 states that there must be automated data transfer between your CSV/Excel document. If you need to make adjustments to the final amount on your return, you'll need to edit the CSV/Excel file before using the bridging solution. 

Yes, you’ll need to have VAT setup and enable the MTD feature in QuickBooks before you can submit a return to HMRC.

It’s important to record every time money goes in or out of your bank account so that your books balance at the end of each tax year. When you make a VAT payment to HMRC, or receive a refund from them, you need to record all VAT payments and refunds before matching them with the associated bank transactions in QuickBooks. 

If you use QuickBooks only for the bridging solution. You don’t need to do anything further in QuickBooks.

Yes! When you submit your VAT return in QuickBooks and the submission is successful, you’ll see a confirmation message in QuickBooks containing a receipt number which you can save for future reference. You'll also receive an email with the confirmation–this can take a few hours to arrive.

More help

If you have a question about MTD, post a question on our Community and start a discussion with an expert.

QuickBooks MTD software currently supports Standard, Cash and Flat Rate schemes. QuickBooks Online Bridging Software supports Standard and Cash schemes. Businesses whose home currency is not GBP are currently not supported for MTD.

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