The April deadline for Making Tax Digital is rapidly approaching so we all need to be prepared, which includes using a software programme compatible with HMRC.

Making Tax Digital will help bring the tax system into the 21st century by providing businesses with a modern, streamlined system to keep their tax records and provide information to HMRC.

Significantly, the roll-out for Making Tax Digital was amended last year to ensure businesses have plenty of time to adapt to the changes.

Under the current 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.

Key Points

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.

All businesses and landlords will have at least two years to adapt to the changes before being asked to keep digital records for other taxes.

HMRC intends to run a live pilot of the new system in Spring 2018. This will allow for more than a year of testing before any businesses are mandated to use the system.

The Finance Bill will be introduced as soon as possible after the summer recess. This will legislate for all policies that were included in the pre-election Finance Bill, raising over £16 billion across the next five years to fund our vital public services.

The government has also re-confirmed that all policies originally announced to start from April 2017 will be effective from that date.

Next Steps

Better use of information
Ministers believe that Making Tax Digital presents significant benefits for businesses. It will mean that they will not have to give HMRC information that it already has, or that it is able to get from elsewhere – for instance from employers, banks, building societies and other government departments.

Digital tax accounts for all will mean that customers can see the information that HMRC holds and be able to check at any time that their details are complete and correct. HMRC will use this information to tailor the service it provides, according to each of our customers’ individual circumstances.

Tax in real time
Businesses should not have to wait until the end of the year or longer to know how much tax they should pay. HMRC will collect and process information affecting tax as close to real time as possible, to help prevent errors and stop tax due or repayments owed building up.

A single financial account
At the moment most taxpayers cannot see a single picture of their liabilities and entitlements in one place – but this is changing. By 2020, businesses will be able to see a comprehensive financial picture in their digital account, just like they can with online banking.

Interacting digitally
As your accountants, we will be able to interact with HMRC digitally and at a time to suit them. They already have access to a digital account which will present them with an increasingly personalised picture of their tax affairs, along with prompts, advice and support through webchat and secure messaging. Digital record keeping software will be linked directly to HMRC systems, allowing customers to send and receive information directly from their software.

Making Tax Digital for VAT

From April 2019 all VAT registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 will be required to:

  • Maintain their accounting records digitally in a software package or on a spreadsheet. Paper records will no longer meet the legal requirements in tax legislation.
  • Submit their VAT returns to HMRC using MTD compatible software that can interact with HMRC’s API platform.

The API (Application Program Interface) is a way of digitally communicating your VAT information with the Revenue. You will need this to submit your VAT returns to them and they will also need to be able to send information back to you.

If you are a VAT registered business with a turnover above £85,000 then you must comply with the new MTD for VAT rules from the first complete VAT quarter after 1st April 2019. This means that your accounting and VAT records must be kept digitally.

HMRC is compiling a list of compatible software that is continuing to grow. If you would like advice on suitable software for your business then please contact us without delay so you can prepare in plenty of time.

The new requirement is that you record all of your VAT records digitally. There is no requirement to record extra information or to save digital copies of your receipts or invoices at this time but will most likely become a requirement in the near future.

There will be no changes to the underlying VAT rules or the current filing and payment deadlines for VAT. They won’t be changing the amount of information required to be submitted either, the VAT return will remain the same 9 boxes that you already submit.

If you would like to talk to us about your MTD for VAT requirements please get in touch.