Tax experts question timetable for digital reporting

A flagship plan to bring in digital tax reporting within the next few years is facing increasing criticism from accountants.

Members of some of the profession’s biggest trade bodies, including the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIoT) and the Association of Taxation Technicians (AAT), have raised major concerns about the Making Tax Digital (MTD) scheme.

In particular there are fears that the proposals, which will require firms to file quarterly returns online, are being implemented in too tight a timescale.

Many tax experts believe that given the resources currently available to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) it is unrealistic to try and implement the new system by 2020, with many experts believing that the middle of next decade would be a more credible target.

John Cullinane, the CIoT’s tax policy director, said there was a significant risk that smaller companies would fall into non-compliance if the tax authority didn’t revise its timetable.

“The struggle to move to digital record keeping and quarterly reporting is unrealistically tight,” he said.

“It is agreed that digitisation can bring efficiency and other benefits to HMRC and taxpayers alike, yet the Government appears to be forcing the pace.”

Yvette Nunn, the co-chair of the technical steering group, ATT, said: “The evidence shows that MTD will lead to significant costs and burdens for small businesses, in their additional accounting systems and support from their accountants

“HMRC must help smaller businesses to adapt, as we firmly believe that HMRC is moving too fast. How can HMRC fully digest the feedback within the proposed timescales?”

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