How do I deal with a negative Box 5 figure because Easy MTD VAT won't submit the associated VAT return?

HMRC do not permit a negative number for box 5 and as such look upon a VAT return as follows:

  • Box 3 bigger than box 4 = Payment.
  • Box 4 bigger than box 3 = Refund.

In order for Easy MTD VAT (as a result of a HMRC stipulation) to permit the VAT return to be submitted, the box 5 figure in your Excel (xlsx, xls, xlsm) or comma-separated values (csv) file must be positive. Therefore, if box 4 > box 3, the box 5 figure must be calculated by deducting the box 3 value from the box 4 value.

If your VAT figures are stored in an Excel spreadsheet, both scenarios (box 3 > box 4, and box 4 > box 3) can be calculated correctly using the following formula in the cell where the box 5 figure should appear:


Where box3 is the cell where the box 3 figure is located, and box4 is the cell where the box 4 figure is located. A real world example would be something like this:


If you prefer not to change the box 5 figure in the Excel (xlsx, xls, xlsm) or comma-separated values (csv) file and instead allow Easy MTD VAT to calculate the box 5 figure, perform one of the following actions:

  • Tick the Calculate checkbox for box 5 in the Spreadsheet Settings window (version and below).
  • Leave the box 5 Sheet Name and Cell values blank in the Submit VAT Return window (version 3 and above).
  • Omit the box 5 figure from the comma-separated values (csv) file (version 3 and above).

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