Making Tax Digital Update
The government is determined to push ahead with Making Tax Digital (MTD), which will require businesses and landlords to use accounting software to make quarterly reports of income and expenses to HMRC. This reporting will apply for accounting periods starting on and after:
- 6 April 2018 for businesses and landlords who pay income tax;
- 1 April 2019 for VAT reporting;
- 1 April 2020 for all companies and for partnerships with turnover of £10m or more.
Those with low levels of sales or rents will be exempt from making quarterly reports, but the government hasn't confirmed what this minimum turnover threshold will be. Businesses with turnover up to another, also as yet undetermined, threshold will be able to delay quarterly reporting for another year. Quarterly reporting will be compulsory for all other businesses and landlords, but penalties for non-compliance won't be imposed for a year.
If your turnover is less than the VAT registration threshold (£83,000 from 1 April 2016), you are permitted to complete just three lines on your tax return regarding your accounts: total income, total expenses and resulting profit or loss. These three lines will be all you need to report quarterly under MTD. HMRC has promised that free software will be available to businesses in this category, if they have no employees.
Where your turnover is higher than the VAT threshold you will be required to submit totals of around fifteen categories of expenses, plus sales income for each quarter. The software to do this will not be free.
VAT reporting won't be combined with MTD quarterly reporting until at least April 2019, so until then you will need to submit VAT returns in addition to your quarterly MTD returns.
To finalise your accounts with HMRC you will have to send HMRC a final period statement by ten months after the end of your accounting period end. A business with a 31 March year end will have to submit a year end statement by the following 31 January, as is the case now on a self assessment tax return.
You will be permitted to use spreadsheets to record day-to-day transactions, but to make MTD reports the data will have to be transferred into MTD-compliant accounting software. We can discuss how your accounting systems may need to change to prepare for MTD.