Making tax digital update

Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) – Feb 18 update

Today I sat through a one hour Making Tax Digital (MTDfB) webinar, presented by HMRC, which was specifically for agents.

They talked about how the software developers are the experts in making digital information transfer data via API (application programming interface) and that if you want to know their plans then you should speak to them to find out what they are doing.

Note – HMRC’s own developers are widely speculated to have quit when confronted with the prospect of IR35 being applied to them. IR35 being HMRC’s legislation which was forcing them to regard their own IT contractors as employed due to the nature of their working arrangements.

Without IT contractors willing to work for HMRC, the April 2018 implementation date went out of the window and a mock cry of “Hurrah” echoed around the accounting community.

What did I find out?

Having spoken to a few key accountancy software providers in the last week I am well aware that they are representing that they are waiting for HMRC to decide exactly what they want. I suspect also wanting some tasty tax breaks for doing the work for them.

Bearing in mind that in about a month’s time (April 2018) we were originally anticipating having to submit quarterly returns digitally via API on pretty much all levels.  I wonder if this time next year we will be talking about a further imminent deferral or starting to take the April 2019 implementation date seriously.

One useful clarification today was that spreadsheets will be acceptable. With the following caveat: So long as the information therein is transferred via API and includes certain essential bits of data.  The “essential” data does appear to have been defined. One small success.

The webinar lead me to look around the internet

Try Google searching “how do I submit my spreadsheet to HMRC via API” and you will end up with not a lot of useful information and one very recent blog from HMRC themselves:

They started blogging on Making Tax Digital 3 years ago and I think there is sufficient information in this update to explain why it isn’t really moving forward.

My questions went unanswered so I did not gain any new knowledge from the largely wasted hour:

When the webinar came to it’s Q&A section I asked pointed questioned about what specific guidance was being given to software providers in order to help them build the API. My questions were some of the few that remained unanswered at the end of the session.

If you are really keen you can be a guinea pig:

If you are VAT registered you can sign up as a volunteer to test the system from April 2018. If you do, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Read more on why we do need to take this seriously:

That’s all for now….