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Using VT MTD for Excel: VAT return in any format
Submitting an Excel VAT return in any format

1. Open the Excel spreadsheet containing the VAT return and select the sheet where the VAT return is located.

(Note that the VAT return will need to have already been prepared manually on Excel, MTD for Excel only submits the VAT return).

2. In the Excel menu go to to Add-Ins > VT MTD > Specify VAT Return Cells (Any Format).

3. The ‘Specify VAT Return Cells’ dialog comes up. In each box, enter the cell reference of the cell containing the relevant data from your VAT return. So if your company name was in cell B36, you would enter B36 in the box next to Company name in the ‘Specify VAT return cells’ box.

4. Make sure you have performed the procedures required for setting up MTD. If you have not, please refer to:
Setting up MTD for businesses, if you are business submitting your own VAT return

Setting up MTD for agents, if you are an agent submitting clients' VAT returns through your Agent Services Account.

5. To submit the VAT return, select Add-ins > VT MTD > Submit VAT Return to HMRC from the Excel menu.

6. To display the submission receipt, choose Add-Ins > VT MTD > Display Last Submission Receipt. You can print the receipt by clicking on the Print button.

Note that you should save your Excel spreadsheet carefully as it your VAT return record.

Digital Links

When using spreadsheets for your VAT return, figures cannot be copied and pasted in your spreadsheet(s) containing your VAT return and associated data.


Under MTD for VAT rules, digital links must be in place between the different software elements that make up your digital VAT record keeping system. HMRC define a digital link in HMRC VAT Notice: 700/22, as follows:

'A 'digital link' is one where a transfer or exchange of data is made, or can be made, electronically between software programs, products or applications.'

They also state that linked cells in spreadsheets count as digital links:

'A digital link includes linked cells in spreadsheets, for example, if you have a formula in one sheet that mirrors the source's value in another cell, then the cells are linked.'

HMRC also state the following regarding copying and pasting data:

'HMRC does not consider the use of 'cut and paste' or 'copy and paste' to select and move information, either within a software program or between software programs, to be a digital link'.

The rules for digital links come into effect on 1 April 2021. For your obligations in this respect you should refer to HMRC VAT Notice: 700/22.
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