Making Tax Digital is meant to revolutionise the way businesses report their financial information to the UK tax authority, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Digital record keeping and reporting is intended to make tax submissions easier, although it also allows HMRC to more easily check those submissions. It is a step towards real time reporting and more frequent tax payments by businesses.
Implementation of the project has been subject to many delays, and is likely to be further delayed due to design and project management issues.
It means that you will need to consider suitable software and training in order to comply with the regime. As this can be time-consuming and costly, it is advisable to start the transition as soon as practicable, but bearing in mind the likely further delays in the MTD project happening on time.
MTD for VAT purposes began in 2019 for businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000 per annum).
VAT-registered businesses with taxable turnover below the threshold needed to join MTD by 1 April 2022.
MTD for Income Tax Self Assessment is meant to start in the tax year 2026/27.
Businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required:
to operate MTD from 6 April 2026 in relation to their trading and property income chargeable to Income Tax and Class 4 NICs if their gross income from these income sources for a tax year exceeds £50,000 (£30,000 from 6 April 2027).
to keep their records digitally (for income tax purposes only),provide digital quarterly updates and provide their income tax return information to HMRC through MTD compatible software
The programme for those with incomes between £10,000 to £30,000 has been put on hold until further notice. HMRC has not announced when it will introduce digital record keeping for general partnerships.
You can apply for an exemption from MTD ITSA
Businesses within MTD for VAT (from April 2022) and joining MTD for ITSA from April 2026 should ensure their software developer has a compatible product.
See also HMRC's Check when to sign up for Making Tax Digital for Income Tax
See what the tax profession thinks of MTD in an August 2023 survey by the Chartered Institute of Taxation.
A report by the Public Accounts Committee, published in November 2023, was critical of MTD implementation.
HMRC has not announced when it will introduce MTD for Corporation Tax. It is unlikely to take place until around 2030, if then, and a voluntary pilot scheme would be launched prior to that.
Bishop Fleming can advise you on the best and most cost-effective way to meet the challenge ahead to make your life easier.
Contact our MTD team to discuss how we can help you transition to digital reporting ahead of the deadline.
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Since April 2019 for VAT and not before April 2026 for personal tax and April 2030 for corporation tax, businesses and landlords will be enrolled into keeping digital accounting records and will have to file quarterly figures with HMRC.
Some taxpayers will be exempt, such as charities, community amateur sports clubs (CASCs); and taxpayers who can’t use digital equipment due to disability, age or remoteness of location.
Free software with limited functionality will be available for taxpayers with straightforward tax affairs, though commercial accounting software with more functionality will be preferable for many. Businesses will also be able to use spreadsheets if they wish, but will have to ensure they meet the necessary requirements.
Eligibility for free software will apply where a business meets all these conditions:
HMRC will not require free software to link or integrate with an agent’s product.
The project has already been delayed a number of times, and it appears likely that further delays will occur before full implementation.
HMRC is proposing to allow unincorporated business with up to £150,000 of turnover to use the cash basis for their financial filings. This would allow certain adjustments for debtors, creditors etc. to be ignored.
Unincorporated landlords will be able to use the cash basis, so will only need to declare rental income they have actually received. Conversely, only payments actually made in the tax year would be allowable. Relief for the costs of buying furniture etc. would be give on a replacement basis.
There may be a £150,000 turnover limit for landlords (to be confirmed) who wish to use cash accounting, as their businesses do not necessarily become more complex as they grow. The cash basis would, as is already the case for individual landlords, operate by reference to the tax year (from 6 April to following 5 April).
Businesses will be able to make voluntary payments on a pay-as-you-go basis via their digital accounts. Any voluntary payments made will appear in the digital account of the taxpayer or business as a credit and will be allocated against liabilities as they become due, across their range of taxes. Any unused credits will be carried forward for future use. Taxpayers will be able to choose how and when to pay.
Businesses will send details of their income and expenditure to HMRC once a quarter. New businesses will have to submit their first update within four months of commencement. Businesses eligible for three line accounts will be able to submit a quarterly update with only three lines of data (income, expenses and profit). There will be time after the end of each accounting period to make any adjustments to the updates that have been filed.
Most companies will also have to file quarterly updates to HMRC, though exact details have yet to be published. Companies will not be enrolled into MTD until at least around 2030.
A nominated partner in a partnership will file updates on behalf of all partners. These updates would feed directly into each partner’s digital tax account. As a result, each partner will not need software, nor need maintain their own digital records, unless they have other business interests.
It is proposed that limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and mixed partnerships will not be exempt from quarterly reporting, whatever their level of income.