Periodic Returns

Formerly, VAT was returned with a manual paper return.  It is now  paid through Revenue Online Service in almost all  cases. Unless the trader elects and is permitted to account for VAT on a cash received basis VAT will frequently due before payment is received. If payment is not ultimately received VAT credit may be granted by way of bad debt relief.

A VAT return may be made through an agent or representative.  A declaration must made that the VAT returned is correct.  There is a €4,000 penalty for failure to make a correct and timely return.

Accountable persons must file VAT returns within 19 days of the month following the two-month taxable period.  This is extended to the 23rd day for electronic filing. The taxable year is divided into six two-month periods commencing on first January, March, May, July, September and November in each year.

The return must set out VAT, vatable sales, vatable inputs EU sales and acquisitions and imports.. The requisite VAT must be paid.

Longer Periods

Some traders are permitted to file annually total VAT is less than the specified amount.  Others may be permitted to file bi-annually, three or four times a year. Revenue will take account of the trader’s compliance history.

Biannual filing may be available to traders whose VAT liability is less than €3,000 annually.  Triannual filing is prospectively available for traders with VAT liability below €14,000. The Revenue may agree to align the annual period with the  trader’s accounting period.

Where Revenue permit annual or more frequent returns, they may require payment on account.  Revenue may give notice of a requirement to make returns less frequently than bimonthly unilaterally.

Return of Trading details

In addition to regular VAT returns, accountable persons must undertake a return of trading details.  This summarises details of trading activities in the annual period. It breaks down values of goods and services supplied and purchased. It includes imports and exports and trade within the EU.

The return is made annually through ROS for most traders


VAT  which is due must be returned and accounted for.  The due date for VAT is set out in other sections.  It may be determined by the date of supply, the date of issue of the invoice or by prepayment in some case.

Revenue may enter arrangements in relation to payments on a regular basis, whether by direct debit or otherwise.  A schedule may be agreed. It must be based on genuine estimates of the VAT due.  Failure to pay sufficient sums, may lead to a liability for penalties and interest.

VAT on intra-EU acquisitions made by persons other than a VAT registered business is due by the 15th day of the month following the acquisition or earlier, if pre-invoiced.

The general position is that VAT is paid on an invoice basis.  Therefore,  VAT will commonly  fall due, before the debt is paid.

Cash Basis

The Revenue permits certain businesses to elect to pay VAT on a cash received basis. Purchasers remain on the invoice basis. There are conditions.

At least 90% of turnover / sales must be to persons who are not VAT registered or are exempt. Alternatively,  the trader’s turnover must be below  €2 million. The threshold may be varied from time to time. The Finance (No. 2) 2 Act 2013 increased the turnover threshold for cash accounting basis of VAT to €2 million.

A trader who wishes to account for VAT on a cash paid basis must apply to  Revenue and demonstrate that it  complies with the above conditions.  If it does so Revenue authorise use of the cash basis. Changes in circumstances must be notified. The authorisation may be cancelled.

The cash basis does not apply to importations, intra-EU acquisitions or sales between connected persons.  Importations and intra-EU transactions are subject to special bases of charge which usually involve self-accounting by the buyer. Connected party transactions carry the risk of abuse of cash based accounting as the trader controls both sides of the sale.

Revenue may cancel an authorisation, where the person ceases to qualify or if payments received are less than 80% of the liability which would have applied, if the standard basis had been used. Cancellation may be requested by the trader.

Where the cash basis is used, the trader may still claim credit on an invoice basis.  VAT is determined at the rate in force at the time of supply, rather than at the time of cash receipt.  Credit notes must be issued, where discounts, returns or price reductions are granted.

If there is a switch between cash and invoice bases, there are provisions to ensure that VAT is collected in full and not charged twice.  Similarly, adjustments apply on a reversion back to the standard basis.

Statistical Returns

There are two  other returns which some traders must file, which are control and statistical in nature. They are designed to ensure coordination of transactions within the EU and were introduced when import declarations were removed from intra-EU trade in 1993. VIES is the VAT information exchange system and the VIES return relate primarily to EU sales.

INTRASTAT requires more detail and applies at a higher level of covers movements of goods to and from other EU states. Goods codes equivalent to the custom codes are required. It is primarily statistical in nature.


The VIES return is required in relation to zero rate  supplies of goods and services to VAT registered traders in other EU states It covers most transfers of goods out of the state to another EU state.  It is a monthly return.

There are a number of exceptions including

  • transfers for the purpose of repairs or maintenance,
  • transfers for the purpose of having works or services carried out,
  • transfers for temporary use related to the supply of service in another state.

The VIES return is not required in relation to  distance  sales / mail order sales, which are usually B2C in nature..

The VIES return must be  traders and sell goods or provide services cross-borders to businesses within the EU.  The return must be submitted by 23rd day of the month following the relevant month of supply.

VIES Statement

The VIES statement sets

  • out the VAT numbers of customers in other EU states to whom supplies have been made
  • total value of supplies of goods and services made to each such customer.

The return identifies triangulation arrangements by which they may be a sub- sale of goods involving traders in three EU states.

Returns may be made electronically.  They can be returned by data device, other quasi-electronic means for through ROS.  There is a penalty of €4,000 for failure to comply with VIES returns requirements.

VIES Simplifications

Where supplies are less than €100,000 in a month, returns may be quarterly.  The threshold was reduced to €50,000 in 2012.

Certain VAT registered traders who supply goods cross-border  within the EU but do not supply services cross-border, may be authorised to file annually. Annual returns may be available where annual  turnover is less than €85,000 and intra-EU supplies are less than €15,000.  Traders who make intra-EU supplies and services must file VIES quarterly regardless of being below the thresholds.  They may elect to file monthly.


The INTRASTAT return is required in respect of cross-border movements of EU goods within the European Union. Its primary focus is covers goods of EU origin and goods in free circulation within the European Union having been imported and cleared customs. It  is in addition to the returns of EU purchases and sales in the standard VAT return.

Where purchases from other EU states are more than €500,000 annually for sales to other EU states are more than €635,000 annually a specific INTRASTAT return is required

Where the sales threshold only is exceeded a dispatch Intrastat return only is required. There is a corresponding provision in relation to intra-EU acquisitions.

The INTRASTAT declaration contains

details of purchases and sales (and certain other movements)of goods within the EU.

  • Returns and other  consequent goods movements
  • Goods sent for repair and returns of the same
  • Distance sales  where the trader is not obliged to register (will not usually apply to larger traders after July 2021)

The value of  transactions is to be inserted. In order to maintain statistical equivalence to the import value the costs of transport and insurance after arrival of the goods in the state is deducted.

A more detailed INTRASTAT return is required where EU purchases exceed €5 million and EU sales €35 million annually.

Intrastat Administration

The return must be made monthly by the 23rd day of the following month for the previous months EU sales and purchases.

Intrastat returns may be made by an agent.  In a VAT group, it may be returned by the remitter.  The returns may be made through a number of electronic means or through Revenue On Line.

There is a penalty of €1,265 euro and thereafter €65 euro per day for failure to comply.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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