Making Tax Digital : An Update

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December 15th 2018
Week 37
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Making Tax Digital : An Update

We look at the current state of HMRC's ambitious plans to bring tax into the digital age.

Since their launch in December 2015 Personal Tax Accounts have reached 5 million taxpayers registered and using the online service to file tax returns, claim refunds, manage tax credits, check on their pensions and allowances and benefits.

HMRC sees this as a success, and it is, but the remainder of their plans are struggling to get traction and implementation dates for small businesses are already pushed to, a not firm, 2019. The problem is with the transition period being too narrow to get the smaller businesses to move their records online. HMRC have attempted to assuage those deemed to be troublesome such as landlords and businesses with turnovers below £10,000 by exempting them for a longer period - but many stakeholders still feel that the plans are so ambitious that the Taxman requires resources that he doesn't have at his disposal.

Concerns were first put across by the National Audit Office that HMRC appear to be running in a culture of cost cutting, which is at odds with the task of introducing widespread connected systems that must be reliable and fail-safe.

A Webinar (online seminar) held this week for accountants and others with an interest in the digital plans showed that there is a disconnect between the threshold that HMRC feels should be imposed for forcing businesses to keep real-time records online and what accountants feel is achievable. In addition, it is pointed out that software to help people keep their records online that was set to be released in Autumn 2016 is yet to surface - with some developers stating they are yet to receive the finalised specifications for producing the software.

All of this comes to a head with professional bodies now joining in to request that the Making Tax Digital plans be delayed until the implementation can be guaranteed to be glitch-free. There is even an online petition to stop the MTD (Making Tax Digital) plans altogether as 'it will be hugely burdensome on small businesses'.

The current roadmap of development can be read here.

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