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MTD Advice using Proprietary MySQL system.

Looking to find out if I can use CSV files with Sage to submit VAT and Tax

We run a small business and I have built bespoke in house system that uses MySQL as the database, we have records of all our jobs, customers and invoices etc on this.  Recently I decided that we should set up our accountancy using this system (we currently use Excel and do it all manually) then MTD comes along. 


My question is: MySQL can export to CSV, XML etc, am I right in thinking that the way to go is to import this file into a program like Sage and submit from there? Is that overkill? If it is the right route then I need to figure out all the necessary fields names etc.

I might be completely out of my depth here but our plan is to subscribe to Sage and, for the first year, double up i.e. do all the entries in both systems and see if there is a way of going from there.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



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17th Apr 2019 11:23

If you've built the system yourself and are confident in the technologies involved, you could always look into implementing the HMRC API in your own system and have it interface directly.

I have no idea how much is involved in doing this but there's a poster on here who's designed and built MTD software who might be better placed to advise.

Failing that, your best option for now is to export to CSV and get bridging software, rather than Sage. It's much simpler and cheaper and should give you at least a couple of years of compliance.

Thanks (1)
17th Apr 2019 13:03

This is the sort of thing that bridging software is designed for.

Thanks (1)
17th Apr 2019 14:46

Bridging Software. £50. Job done

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18th Apr 2019 12:11

Thank you for the replies, we will probably run Sage for the first year to give us confidence in compliance but I'd like to know a lot more about bridging software.

Does bridging software essentially convert the csv format to the appropriate naming conventions?

Any reccomendations on Bridging software?

Thanks (0)
to AcornCreative
01st May 2019 15:30

As others have suggested, bridging software is what you require. Introducing a full blown accounting package like Sage is overkill and money wasted if you use spreadsheets and MySQL to keep your business records. Our bridging software (Easy MTD VAT - costs as little as £0.99 to submit a return to HMRC (you can view obligations, liabilities and payments without cost) and it can take VAT figures stored in Excel and a CSV.

As for your comment about compliance, any software that is listed on the HMRC software list is compliant. If it wasn't and if it hadn't been used to submit a return successfully it wouldn't be there.

If you're wondering why Easy MTD VAT isn't on the list (as of today), we're waiting for HMRC to put us there. As you know, HMRC don't tend to accomplish things quickly but we're hoping to be up there any day now :)

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22nd May 2019 10:00

Thanks for this, I see that you are indeed now on the list and I've looked at your website.

So essentially I download the software and import a CSV and this software does what? Convert column names to a naming convention that HMRC uses? Runs an AI to best replicate our accounts into the correct format them? Just submits it safely through a portal?

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to AcornCreative
22nd May 2019 10:16

MTD only involves submitting the 9 boxes. All of the different MTD suppliers have different ways of mapping inputs from various sources to the API. I have written a page about digital links and CSV files here.

For example, there are a few large bakeries that use AS/400 or ISeries software. Their software house has written a routine that takes data from their accounting system and puts it into a CSV format for my MTD interface.

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to johnhemming
22nd May 2019 11:06

EDIT: I'm just watching the videos at the foot of that page you posted, thank you very much for those and for you message.

Sorry you'll have to bear with me as I'm not as proficient in all this as I might be coming off.

Currently for our schema for expenditure I have column names of:


There is also an autoID column.

Does the bridging software need to see any of this at all or is it just looking at month totals?

I'm asking all this as I want try and get it as close to correct from the start, save having to reprogram the system at a later date.

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to AcornCreative
22nd May 2019 11:16

For Easy MTD VAT, you need to get the 9 box figures of your VAT return on to the first line of a CSV. Each one separated by a comma. For example (box 1 on the left, box 9 on the right):


Easy MTD VAT will then be able to import these figures then submit them to HMRC.

Alternatively you could use an Excel spreadsheet. The 9 VAT figures could then be in any worksheet and any cell (you just specify where they are using Easy MTD VAT).

Bridging software is designed to simply submit 9 box figures to HMRC. Some bridging software (like Easy MTD VAT) may also let you view your VAT obligations, liabilities and payments. It isn't required to do anything more than that.

The Easy MTD VAT help documents how each box figure should be specified in your CSV or Excel file, and describes in more detail how your CSV should be structured:

When you sign up for an Easy MTD VAT account you'll receive a complimentary submission token. This will enable you to submit your first VAT return for free, and enable you to experience the (simple) process of importing your VAT figures then submitting them.

Thanks (2)
to AcornCreative
22nd May 2019 12:11

Bridging software only needs the totals (whoever is doing it).

I do a cloud cashbook thingy as well, but that is not something you would want to use.

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27th May 2019 17:13

If your program can export a VAT return to CSV, you can use bridging software to file with HMRC. When I looked at the list of bridging software last week there were 124 suppliers. Prices vary from £free upwards. We're using Absolute which costs businesses £40 a year (it's a lot cheaper for agents). But Absolute requires Excel 2010 or newer so couldn't file a CSV directly: it would need to be converted into an XLSX. There are bridging products that can file directly from CSVs. Personally I would not subscribe to Sage unless I wanted the functionality of Sage. I've been using Sage for decades (I first used it way back in 1989) and it is solid, but it's falling behind the likes of QuickBooks in terms of features.

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