Making Tax Digital

Introduction -Making Tax Digital

This article covers Making Tax Digital (MTD). In here, we will look at where we are heading to in the future. In 2022, we are now already well underway with this. Importantly, the digital reporting for UK business for VAT is already here.

Making Tax Digital for VAT started in April 2019 and it now applies to all VAT-registered businesses from April 2022. Please note, a business can register for VAT voluntarily if it so chooses. However, when a business’ taxable turnover is over the registration threshold of £85,000 it is compulsory to be VAT registered.

MTD: what does it mean for you?

MTD is a government initiative that sets out a bold vision for a digital tax system. Key to note, the idea of this is to “make it easier for each individual and business to get tax right and keep on top of their affairs”.

What is Making Tax Digital?

MTD is all about digitally advanced tax administrations that make tax reporting more effective. Further to this, it is about making this more efficient and easier for taxpayers. This is through the implementation of a fully digital tax system. To clarify, the digital software is effectively an online platform i.e., a website. Please note, this allows you to maintain your business records and file documents online with the tax office.

Making Tax Digital for VAT and the roll-out of the system is now well underway. Most important, MTD for VAT is now already in place. This means that all VAT registered businesses in the UK will need to file VAT returns using MTD compliant software. Furthermore, they also now need to store their financial records that relate to VAT on a digital basis.

FreeAgent is a popular online accounting software package. To explain further, this is ideal for contractors and small business.

We expect further announcements about MTD for Income Tax and Corporation Tax in the future. Please note, software providers like FreeAgent are actively in talks with HMRC to help with the implementation of MTD. As part of this, the aim is to simplify the shift for small businesses..

Making Tax Digital -other considerations

What to expect?

If your business is VAT registered, you should already have an MTD tax digital software solution in place. Key to note, the MTD compatible software will allow you to submit your VAT returns online with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The tax office said previously that “other taxes” won’t come under the scope of MTD until at least 2021. However, every small business owner and individual taxpayer now has access to a digital account. What’s more, they can use this to check their records and manage their details with HMRC. As the roll-out of MTD gathers pace, you should see the future major changes to the way that you manage and report your business taxes:

  • Through your digital account, you will be able to see a complete full picture of your business tax affairs. In addition, you will also be able to manage all of your tax liabilities at the same time, in the same place.
  • Key to note, HMRC will collect and process information that affects tax as close to real-time as is possible. As part of this, it should prevent any tax due or repayments owed from building up.
  • As an extra note, you will no longer need to wait until the end of the tax year to know how much tax you have to pay.

Who does Making Tax Digital apply to?

The MTD shakeup outlines the changes that will apply to a wide range of taxpayers. Please note, this includes most businesses. In addition, it also includes self-employed people and landlords, as well as individual taxpayers.

However, HMRC has confirmed that it will legislate for an exemption “for taxpayers who cannot engage digitally”. Furthermore, they have also confirmed that the legislation will use the existing VAT online filing exemptions.

How will Making Tax Digital come in?

As MTD rolls out, several changes will come in. Importantly, based on the information released by HMRC in July 2017, here is a rough timeline of the developments that are most relevant to business owners:

  • April 2019 MTD for VAT starts.
  • 2021 onwards -HMRC looks to widen the scope of Making Tax Digital.
  • April 2022 -digital for VAT.

It is now mandatory for all UK VAT registered businesses to file their VAT returns by MTD compliant software. Therefore, they need a digital platform such as FreeAgent to be able to do this. In addition, the previous ways of filing are no longer available.

  • April 2024 – digital for income tax.

This is the planned date for sole traders and unincorporated landlords who have business or property income of £10,000 or more, starting in the 2024/25 tax year. Notably, the £10,000 threshold applies to gross income or turnover, not the profit. This was originally delayed by one year but now looks to go ahead. Therefore, businesses that are affected will need to use MTD-compliant digital software to submit quarterly summaries / returns of their business’s income and expenses.

  • The future -MTD for Corporation Tax.
  • The future -the digital reporting of what is now the UK Self-Assessment tax return.

A new way of reporting to HMRC

The move to a more digital tax system should come as welcome news to the many taxpayers who already choose to report much of their information to HMRC online.

The number of returns that are currently submitted online

The shift to a digital service will help to iron out some of the issues that can make the current method of reporting information to HMRC frustrating for business owners. In particular, MTD promises to “modernise the tax system” and “make it more effective, more efficient and easier for customers to comply”.

Making Tax Digital -the end of the income tax Self-Assessment tax return

One of the biggest implications for small business owners is the removal of the annual tax return.

Under MTD, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be able to keep track of their tax affairs digitally going forwards. Furthermore, they will also be able to update HMRC at least quarterly via third party software, or more often if they would prefer. In addition, HMRC has said that this will not involve completing a full tax return four times a year. Therefore, it will simply mean that you will provide more regular updates online.

Final thoughts

As a final note, in previous times, many contractors used to regularly update their spreadsheets each quarter. Nowadays, most have switched to digital records and reporting. As we move forward, this will move into other areas as time progresses.

Link to Contractor Advice UK group on


Published On: March 12th, 2021 / Categories: Tax Guides /

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