Making tax digital - how is this embracing the unknown?

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Our Brighton Summit headline sponsors Cardens Accountants talk about the future of tax and how businesses must embrace the unknown when it comes to making tax digital. 

We felt this was a great topic to cover under “Embracing the unknown” as this is exactly what it is. HMRC, accountants and the general public are not yet sure whether this is going to be a great success or fail. I still think a large amount of people do not even know what this is.

So what is Making Tax Digital?
The Government started this process for businesses with the introduction of real time information for employers payrolls in April 2013. Every employer had to submit payroll records digitally to HMRC rather than by paper, as they had previously been able to do. This change overall has worked and since then they have been keeping their eye on bringing this in across the whole range of ways in which taxpayers provide details to HMRC.

There is to be an introduction of a “real-time” tax system meaning that instead of reporting information on tax returns and paying liabilities long after the end of the tax year, you will be able to see a real-time view of your business tax affairs and liabilities through your digital accounts. This should make it easier to understand how much tax you owe and to budget accordingly. This will mean updating HMRC quarterly for income tax and National Insurance liabilities through accounting software.

If Making Tax Digital applies to you, you’ll be required to use digital tools, such as software or apps, to keep records of your income and expenditure. HMRC has stated that it won’t provide its own software, but will ensure that basic apps and software products are available for businesses with “the most straightforward affairs”. Many other businesses and their accountants, however, will choose to use more comprehensive commercial software.

When is this likely to happen?
The timetable for its introduction keeps being moved, with the latest reason being given as that there is not enough time available to trial the process. The new timetable, which was announced by HMRC in mid-July is:


Business Turnover Quarterly Reporting Timetable
Over £85k & VAT registered VAT records only 1st April 2019
Over £85k all businesses & Landlords Income TAX & N.I. 1st April 2020
Less than £85k Income TAX & N.I. 1st April 2020 voluntarily
All Limited companies Corporation TAX 1st April 2020


Making Tax Digital for VAT will go into a public beta test in the spring of 2018 and from April 2019, businesses above the VAT threshold will have to file their VAT returns with MTD-compatible software.

So what should I be doing to prepare for this?
Keep an eye on the news for any further delays, as HMRC have delayed this a couple of times already since it was announced. This will happen however, so start to review what your procedures are for maintaining your accounting records digitally.

Speak to your accountants – Cardens are able to advise on a number of cloud accounting software options, as well as handle the requirements of Making Tax Digital via it’s bookkeeping and outsourcing department.

Thank you to Victoria Mason for providing this blog. Cardens has sponsored the Brighton Summit since its inception five years ago, to get in touch visit or call  01273 739592. 

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