HMRC's digital VAT pilot goes live

Written by Staff reporter on 17 October 2018 in News

Pilot to enable businesses to file their VAT online has gone live, aiming to make it easier for them to manage their records and save time

Image credit: PA

New digital ways to pay tax will give businesses more control over their finances, according HMRC’s director of Making Tax Digital for Business.

A pilot to enable businesses to file their VAT online has gone live, aiming to make it easier for them to manage their records and save time.

The Making Tax Digital for VAT initiative from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has invited more than half a million businesses whose affairs are up to date and straightforward to try out the digital service. It will extend the service to other businesses in the coming months, according to the department.

The scheme is part of Making Tax Digital, which aims to improve how government tax administration works so that it is more efficient and easier for taxpayers to pay the right amount of tax. Avoidable mistakes currently cost the Exchequer more than £9bn a year.

Making Tax Digital will see new rules come into force in April 2019 that will require around one million businesses registered for VAT with a taxable turnover above £85,000 to keep their VAT records digitally and file their returns using software compatible with the programme.

The rollout of the programme has been delayed from initial plans, with businesses not now be mandated to use the Making Tax Digital for Business system until April 2019, and then it will only be to meet their VAT obligations. This is compared to an original rollout across business taxation intended to start with income tax in 2018, followed by VAT and corporation tax in consecutive years. Making Tax Digital will not be mandated for taxes other than VAT until at least April 2020, following concerns from small businesses.

HMRC has also agreed to allow businesses with more complex requirements a further six months to prepare for the changes.

Mel Stride MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “More and more businesses use digital tools every day to help them operate – tax shouldn’t be different. This is a major step towards bringing VAT into the 21st century."

Theresa Middleton, director for Making Tax Digital for Business, said: “Millions of people are already banking, paying bills and interacting with their suppliers and customers online. Using digital tools to help businesses manage their business income and expenses and get their tax right builds on this momentum and will also help them get more control over their finances.”

Following a consultation during the development of the Making Tax Digital programme, HMRC decided to slow the pace of change and announced that it will not be mandated for taxes other than VAT until at least April 2020, following concerns from small businesses.

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