iXBRL pioneer previews HMRC event
David Forbes, the UK’s foremost purveyor of iXBRL-based software, is looking forward to the HMRC exhibition of iXBRL Corporation Tax products at Chelsea football ground next week and has been spreading the message at recent meetings with ACCA’s Thames Valley region and CIMA’s practitioners’ conference.
“People need to see this stuff in action and have some sort of confirmation that everything will be ready,” he said, “or start moving to vendors who have proved they’ve got something that works.”
Forbes Computer Systems was the first software developer recognised by HMRC as being able to file both the iXBRL computations and final accounts that will need to accompany the electronic CT600 return when online filing becomes mandatory next April. (*TaxCalc received recognition in the past week - ed
According to Forbes preparing an iXBRL file for CT computations is reasonably straightforward. “It’s the accounts that are the difficult bit. For a typical FRSSE company the CT computation takes up a page and that doesn’t vary too much from company to company.” In contrast the accounts can take up 18-19 pages and vary from company to company. Big company accounts are even more complex.
Forbes created an XBRL-based accounts production package in 2005 “because we knew XBRL was coming along” and his firm was the first to submit abbreviated accounts to in the format Companies House. Since then he has represented the software industry body BASDA on HMRC working parties that deliberated about how to accommodate the accountant’s need to see the accounts in their definitive, client-approved form with the department’s demand for accounts information that complies with the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) specification for UK GAAP. Inline XBRL (iXBRL) is the compromise that resulted – and Forbes has first-hand knowledge of why and how it has been developed.
Because Forbes built his XBRL accounts production program from scratch, there was no need to adapt existing code, or cater the whims of users – the reason why many other companies in the tax and practice market have struggled with their iXBRL projects
“It would be much easier for Sage or IRIS to write a new application, which is what we did,” he continued. “The more powerful an accounts production package is, the more difficult it is to put iXBRL into it retrospectively. Users of Sage and IRIS will been tinkering with formats, so not only to they have to support a new package, they also have to support the stuff people have done with the old one. ”
September will see a second HMRC iXBRL event devoted to accounts production packages, but Forbes encouraged accountants to take the opportunity to review their Corporation Tax options on Wednesday the 30th. “It’s what’ they did with Self Assessment and good to see them replicate the roadshow idea,” he said.