Accountants making the transition to iXBRL-based electronic filing are coming up against a closed door, as HMRC will not be ready to accept post-31 March 2011 returns until it updates its online portal in October.
As AccountingWEB.co.uk member Kevin Ringer found to his dismay, HMRC reports that because of the reduction of the Corpoartion Tax rate to 26% (21% for small company rate) on 6 April, it needs to update its software and will not do so until October.
“The rate changes only affect returns with accounting periods that end on or after 1 April 2011 with filing dates of 1 April 2012 or later,” the HMRC service availability notice explained. “These changes will take effect on the date that Finance Bill 2011 receives Royal Assent (expected in July 2011). Corporation Tax Online will then be updated in October 2011 with the new rates. In the meantime Corporation Tax online will use the old rates.
“If you can’t wait and have an urgent need to file your return before then, please contact your HMRC office for further advice. HMRC would like to apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
Ringer commented: “So after forcing us to file online, HMRC’s systems are now incapable of accepting online Returns. Crazy or what?” Several members made the same point in our HMRC Working Together eGroup.
In response to Ringer, Taxhound wrote: “I am not impressed with the Royal Assent argument. It is just another indication of the total lack of organisation at HMRC.”
Others were more sanguine. “HMRC are normally late in doing this; it is not a new development. The only problem is that this year we have the whole iXBRL thing,” said Nichola Ross Martin.
Software developers are also concerned about the delays and are having to field support calls from exasperated customers. “Our 2011 CT Solutions are ready for release but we are having to provide a hefty caveat that while they can be used to perform the necessary calculations and arrive at the tax liability, submissions of actual returns are unlikely to be possible before October,” commented Andrew Ross from BTCSoftare.
AccountingWEB Tax Editor Rebecca Benneyworth added her voice to calls for HMRC to do reduce the time-lag.
“It was always clear that when efiling became mandatory the October changeover date was going to cause problems,” she said. “It’s an unacceptable situation that was not properly identified and HMRC needs to find a better way to do it.”