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Last updated: 9 Nov 2021
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Planning ahead - Making Tax Digital (MTD) for income tax

Despite the latest extension to the implementation of MTD for income tax, if you’re a business owner or landlord, there’s still plenty for you to do now to prepare and make life easier in the long run.

When will it be introduced?

MTD for income tax was initially due to come into effect from April 2021, which was postponed to April 2023 in July 2020. On 23 September 2021, HMRC announced that it is further delaying the introduction of MTD for income tax to April 2024, “to give everyone enough time to prepare”, the Financial Secretary of the Treasury explained. 

The consensus in the tax industry is one of relief, with the additional delay being one that professional bodies have campaigned for. This may also be the case for those businesses which do not have an accounting period aligned with the tax year, as the delay of MTD has been made in conjunction with the basis period reform, which has also been pushed back to April 2024.

For partnerships, there is a further extension to the previous start date, with qualifying businesses not required to join until April 2025. HMRC is still to confirm when LLPs will need to sign up to MTD and the status of MTD for corporation tax remains unclear.

About the authors

Paul Baker

+44 (0)20 7556 1391
bakerp@Buzzacott.co.uk
LinkedIn

Howard Ledingham

+44 (0)20 7556 1206
ledinghamh@buzzacott.co.uk
LinkedIn

When will it be introduced?

MTD for income tax was initially due to come into effect from April 2021, which was postponed to April 2023 in July 2020. On 23 September 2021, HMRC announced that it is further delaying the introduction of MTD for income tax to April 2024, “to give everyone enough time to prepare”, the Financial Secretary of the Treasury explained. 

The consensus in the tax industry is one of relief, with the additional delay being one that professional bodies have campaigned for. This may also be the case for those businesses which do not have an accounting period aligned with the tax year, as the delay of MTD has been made in conjunction with the basis period reform, which has also been pushed back to April 2024.

For partnerships, there is a further extension to the previous start date, with qualifying businesses not required to join until April 2025. HMRC is still to confirm when LLPs will need to sign up to MTD and the status of MTD for corporation tax remains unclear.

What will MTD for income tax require?

What will MTD for income tax require?

If you’re a business owner or landlord with gross self-employment and property income in excess of £10,000, you‘ll be required to keep income and expense records digitally and to submit records directly to HMRC using MTD compatible software. Rather than filing one self-assessment tax return, you’ll submit six submissions to HMRC per year, which will potentially require more time and resource than before. If you have other sources of income, such as investment income, foreign source income or capital gains, these will all be captured in the final declaration. Click here for more information on the submissions required if MTD for income tax is mandated from April 2024. 

Unsurprisingly, this will come at a cost. HMRC estimates that the transitional costs alone will cost businesses in the UK £1.383 billion, with additional annual tax compliance costs of £152 million a year. Most of the additional costs will be borne from additional professional fees, as businesses look for guidance and advice on how to prepare for this significant change and complete the submissions.

The costs of preparing and complying with MTD are not the only potential costs to be aware of. HMRC is introducing a new penalty regime alongside MTD, with a points-based system that penalises those with persistent compliance issues. You should therefore ensure you’re prepared ahead of time, to mitigate the risk of starting the new compliance system with a black mark on your record. 

How to plan ahead

How to plan ahead

If you’re a sole trader already complying with MTD for VAT, you shouldn’t see much change in your record keeping when it comes to MTD for income tax. However, other sole traders and landlords should start planning for the transition now to ensure MTD compliance and to avoid any penalties. The best way to get started is to:

1. Ensure that you are keeping your income and expense records in a digital format

When you get paid in cash you should use software to record the transaction digitally in a spreadsheet or bookkeeping software. Also, avoid piling up stacks of receipts and instead start getting into the habit of scanning in and saving those travel or office expenses, ready for each quarterly submission. We recommend that you do this before the end of the current tax year so you are familiar with digital record keeping well ahead of the implementation of MTD for income tax.

2. Align your accounting periods if you have multiple trades

If you have multiple trades, or a trade and a rental property with different accounting periods you should look to align these to reduce your future reporting requirements under MTD for income tax. For example, if you have a sole trade with the year end 31 March and a rental property which you report on a UK tax year basis (to 6 April), you should look to change the accounting periods to the same end date to avoid the additional four quarterly submissions if your tax years are not aligned. 

3. Join the HMRC MTD for income tax pilot

HMRC is currently running a very limited MTD for income tax pilot and learning from the implementation of MTD for VAT to help prepare for a full roll out. If you’re a UK resident sole trader with one business, or a landlord with UK property income, you are eligible for the pilot. If you have income from any other sources, you’re unable to join currently. By joining the pilot, you’ll benefit from first-hand experience with the new “real time” tax system and ensure you are ready ahead of it MTD for income tax being mandated for all. If you are interested in joining the pilot please get in touch below and we will add you to the waiting list. We are hoping to join the pilot later this year and there will be no additional costs for this service for existing clients.

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With the ambiguity surrounding much of MTD and delays to its integration, it’s easy to become complacent with the preparations that need to be made. While this is some time away, preparing now will ensure you face a smooth transition and minimise costs down the line. For more information on the above or advice tailored to your situation, please fill out the form below and one of our experts will be in touch to discuss your requirements and how we can help.

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