Making Tax Digital (MTD) is the government’s latest attempt to fully digitise the process of collecting data from taxpayers so they can speed up the process of calculating how much tax you owe.
Until last week, we were facing radical changes to the tax system to accommodate this objective. Businesses (including landlords) were to be required to upload summarised accounts data from their accounts software on a quarterly basis. This information, plus details of other income was to be collected in a personal tax account which would automatically calculate future tax liabilities.
The process was timed to commence April 2018 and be completed April 2020.
The accountancy profession was united in opposition to the undue haste of the implementation process and the obligation that all businesses with turnover more than £10,000 would be required to invest in acceptable accounts software and make quarterly uploads.
It would seem the government has listened. Last week they announced:
Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General said:
Businesses agree that digitising the tax system is the right direction of travel. However, many have been worried about the scope and pace of reforms.
We have listened very carefully to their concerns and are making changes so that we can bring the tax system into the digital age in a way that is right for all businesses.
Under the new timetable:
- only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes
- they will only need to do so from 2019
- businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020
Making Tax Digital will be available on a voluntary basis for the smallest businesses, and for other taxes.
This means that businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will be able to choose when to move to the new digital system.
As VAT already requires quarterly returns, no business will need to provide information to HMRC more regularly during this initial phase than they do now.
It seems clear from this announcement that MTD is proceeding, but at a much more sensible pace.
VAT registered traders will need to have MTD compatible software in place by April 2019, and all businesses including property businesses with turnover above the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000), will need to be ready to make the quarterly uploads of accounts data by April 2020.
Businesses with turnover below the VAT threshold will be under no obligation to use the MTD process, but can join in on a voluntary basis.
We will continue to work with clients to ensure they are ready to meet their obligations. It is gratifying to see the pace of change in this area slow down. This will give affected business owners and their advisors more time to implement the changes required and make more considered decisions about the software they will use to implement their links to HMRC’s MTD systems.