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Making Tax Digital: The Uncertainty over HMRC’s timeline

It won’t come as any surprise to anyone reading this piece that CaseWare, along with accountants and businesses, are awaiting the arrival of the now well overdue HMRC ‘Making Tax Digital’ consultation documents.  It is thought that HMRC had planned to release the consultation documents prior to the HMRC Stakeholder Conference on Thursday 14 July.  However, on Tuesday 12 July, HMRC issued the following statement:

“Following the early change of prime minister announced yesterday, HMRC’s executive leadership will need to be available to ministers at all times during the remainder of the week.

“Unfortunately, this means that we will have to postpone the HMRC Stakeholder Conference on Thursday 14 July.  We’re sorry for the short notice and inconvenience, and we will be in touch with a new date as soon as we can."

With regards to the release of the consultation documents, HMRC added “The political landscape has rapidly changed this week.  We currently intend to publish the MTD consultation documents in the summer but understandably it won’t be this week.”

So we’re now in limbo again as to when we will get to see these consultation documents.  People have lost track in the number of delays there have been relating to Making Tax Digital and it has led a number of high profile organisations to suggest HMRC amend their timetable for implementing this.

Ralph Pettengell, the new President of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) made the following comments in his inaugural speech to the ATT’s Annual General Meeting:

“The Government quite reasonably delayed publishing their six Making Tax Digital Consultative documents until after the referendum campaign.  We will wait to see if they are delayed further by the contest for a new Prime Minister.  In any case by the time responses are in we believe that it will be impossible for HMRC to adequately consider the views and constructive points raised in each consultation in time to keep to the timetable of an April 2017 public testing phase.

Therefore ATT strongly believes that HMRC needs to revise the timetable for implementation by at least one year.  This would allow the consultations to be released in phases, with staggered submission deadlines, to allow more consideration of all the issues.”

ICAS have also commented on the current HMRC timetable in their recent Making Tax Digital Strategy document, where they state;

“Imposing mandatory quarterly filing by 2018 sets too short a timescale to effect the revolution that is needed in small business attitudes.  The vast majority of such businesses and their advisers are not yet prepared for the digital record keeping needed to facilitate cost effective, more frequent reporting.”

These sentiments have been echoed by many in the industry.  Until the consultation documents are released, the uncertainties and expectations of HMRC keeping to their current timetable will be up in the air.  As the tax world waits for the next chapter in this Making Tax Digital soap opera, we anticipate this saga could continue for some time.

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