Table of Contents
This guide helps explain what an obligation period is and some of the error messages that prevent them from being generating.
2. Obligation Period
When you have been through the MTD onboarding wizard successfully, we will automatically fetch your obligation periods from HMRC.
Obligation periods are the Tax periods that HMRC want you to submit, they appear on the Tax > VAT > VAT Return menu.
The obligation period has an MTD tag and shows the date range for the period:
If you click on the 'Preview' button beside this obligation period you can begin creating your VAT return.
Only obligation periods with the MTD tag can be submitted to HMRC for MTD VAT. You cannot create a custom report and submit this to HMRC.
3. Obligation Period Errors
If you do not see the obligation periods after completing the onboarding wizard, you may see an error message or no error message at all on the Tax > VAT > VAT Return menu. Below are some of the known issues and help on how to resolve.
3.1 No error message, but no obligation periods
If you do not see any of the error messages displayed (3.2 - 3.5), however, you have authorised Clear Books as the software for MTD VAT submissions in step 5 of our onboarding wizard, the reasons below will explain why your obligation periods are not appearing.
3.1.1 HMRC Data Issue
We have attempted to fetch your obligations from HMRC, however, they do not have any data to send to us. In some cases the contact details may be incorrect in the Tax Services account, HMRC will be able to advise further.
3.1.2 Old obligation periods
We do not fetch obligation periods older than 18 months.
3.2 MTD for VAT: Pending
This error will always appear directly after signing up, however, it can appear for users who have submitted MTD obligations in the past via Clear Books.
3.2.1 Initial Sign up to MTD
If you have only just signed up to MTD VAT, the migration on HMRC's end can take up to 72 hours, you will receive email confirmation when this process is complete. Only once this confirmation email is received will the pending message be lifted. If the message is not lifted after the 72 hour period, the reasons below will help explain why.
3.2.2 You can only sign up this business if you are an administrator
If you have attempted authorisation on step 5 of our MTD onboarding wizard and received this message directly after entering your credentials "you can only sign up this business if you are an administrator", then you are a user on the HMRC account that does not have permission to submit MTD VAT returns and must use the credentials of a user (on the HMRC account) who does.
3.2.3 Authorisation revoked
If you are signed up to MTD and have already submitted MTD VAT returns via Clear Books, your authorisation may have expired or been revoked. You can deauthorise and re-authorise within this message.
3.2.4 Agent's client authorisation
If you are an agent, you must authorise Clear Books as the software for MTD VAT submissions, in step 5 of our MTD onboarding wizard, with your new Agent services account credentials. Authorising on one client account authorises all your clients who have the representation 'My tax agent submits my VAT returns.' If you use an individual client's credentials at this step, all your clients will try to submit VAT using these credentials which will be rejected by HMRC and hence show the pending error message.
As a safety check, your ASA credentials will contain only numbers for the gateway ID, if it contains letters it is likely a VAT for agents account and not the correct credentials. You can also make sure you can log in to the ASA account (linked below) using the credentials you are attempting in Clear Books. If you cannot access this account then the credentials you are using are incorrect.
If you make a mistake you can de-authorise and re-authorise on step 5 of our MTD onboarding wizard.
3.2.5 Incorrect credentials
This is the cause of the vast majority of cases where the pending message is displayed.
If you have multiple business accounts or clients and are experiencing the Pending error, it may be because a session, where you are logged into a particular business/client HMRC account, is still active (i.e you logged into the HMRC account and did not log out) or you have used the wrong credentials in the authorisation step.
When you authorise Clear Books as the software for MTD it may skip the option to add in the appropriate credentials. It will presume you are trying to authorise the account you are logged into within the active session. To be sure that you are not affected by a session interfering with the authorisation process, log in to Clear Books in an incognito window and run through the authorisation process.
3.2.6 Multiple divisions/branches
We do not support Agent Services Accounts with multiple divisions/branches.
3.3 MTD for VAT: Error communicating with HMRC
The request to HMRC has timed out, so we couldn't fetch your obligation periods. This is usually a temporary error, please refresh the page to try again.
3.4 MTD for VAT: Unknown error
In the majority of these cases, the MTD service is experiencing technical issues either because of scheduled maintenance or unplanned downtime. However, explored below are all the issues that have caused this error that we have experienced.
3.4.1 VAT number incorrect
Please make sure your VAT number is correct on the Settings > Organisation > Details & Tax > Tax menu and that you have signed up for MTD and received email confirmation from HMRC that this is complete.
3.4.2 HMRC maintenance/downtime
The HMRC service may be down for maintenance or unplanned downtime, you can check the status on their website linked below.
3.4.3 HMRC error
In all other cases, there is an error on HMRC's side. We are not receiving any further information from them which can help us identify what this error is. We advise speaking to HMRC to find out more information. If you are an agent, we recommend contacting the HMRC dedicated Agent support, the details are linked below.
3.5 MTD for VAT: Invalid authorisation
The existing authorisation has expired or has been revoked. The authorisation of Clear Books as the software for MTD VAT submissions only lasts for 18 months, as per HMRC directive, therefore a new authorisation is required. You can deauthorise and re-authorise using the option within this message.