Making Tax Digital (MTD) is on the horizon for many businesses. It represents a momentous change in the way taxpayers keep records and submit information to HMRC.

MTD affects VAT first. For return periods starting on or after 1 April 2019, businesses operating over the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep records digitally, using MTD functional compatible software. That’s essentially software, or a combination of software and spreadsheets, which can connect to HMRC via an Application Programming Interface. VAT submissions will then be made direct from the digital records. Manual input will not be acceptable, although there will be a ‘soft landing’ period of 12 months where HMRC will not impose penalties if digital links do not exist between software programs used for submission. It will no longer be possible to submit returns through HMRC’s online portal – except for businesses voluntarily registered for VAT. These businesses will not have to comply unless electing to enter the MTD regime.

Recent slowdown in some areas, such as real-time tax coding and Simple Assessment, will mostly affect non-business taxpayers. MTD won’t be mandatory for taxes such as income and corporation tax until April 2020 at the earliest.

Going forwards

HMRC are currently carrying out a VAT pilot and income tax pilot for small businesses and landlords. Whilst not necessarily advantageous to participate in these, this is definitely the time to consider the next steps on the road to MTD for you and your business. Businesses currently keeping manual records would be well advised to make the transition to digital record keeping, and businesses already digital will need to check when their software provider will meet MTD requirements. Upgrades or bespoke solutions may be necessary to ensure data can be sent seamlessly to HMRC. Please do contact us if you would like help with your new compliance obligations.