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No Accounting for Tech ep17: Making Tax Digital is ‘out of control’

This week’s podcast picks through the bones of the blistering NAO report on Making Tax Digital in the company of Richard Wild from the CIOT and Andrew Burman from global tax and tech firm Ryan. The panellists discuss the criticisms levelled against the tax transformation project and examine what can be done to get it back on the rails.

14th Jun 2023
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A damning report issued by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the government’s flagship Making Tax Digital (MTD) scheme suggested it is expected to cost around five times its original 2016 budget and excluded upfront costs of £1.5bn from its business cases.

Accounting bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Taxation have labelled the project “out of control” and called for HMRC to “pause and take stock”, backing the NAO’s call for a separate business case for MTD for income tax self assessment.

On this special podcast to dissect the report, AccountingWEB technology editor Tom Herbert is joined first by CIOT head of tax technical Richard Wild to discuss how the MTD initiative has gone wrong and what HMRC needs to do to fix it.

Later in the show, business IT transformation expert Andrew Burman from global tax and tech firm Ryan joins the podcast to outline his views on why MTD has been such a problematic project for HMRC and compare the scheme to other initiatives undertaken by government and in the corporate world.

Burman also cautioned that with the pace of technological change the world is currently experiencing, HMRC risks being left behind if it doesn’t deliver MTD to its latest timelines.

Background reading for the podcast:
Making Tax Digital £1bn over budget, says NAO report
MTD ‘out of control’ say tax professionals

Podcast written and hosted by Tom Herbert and produced by Will Cole. 

Replies (7)

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By Payroll Pete
15th Jun 2023 11:09

MTD always appeared a bull in a china shop approach to innovation.
"Everyone must adopt
Everyone must adopt now"

They would have been better off doing what organisations do when they want consumers to migrate:
* make the new service available
* make it easier to use
* offer benefits for using the approach

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By mydoghasfleas
15th Jun 2023 11:12

The whole of MTD is an utter shambles. If the question posed is, "How do we get from here to where we want to be?" the only answer would be, "Well I would not start from here?"

If HMRC wants to impose MTD but rely on us to find providers who can make it work from our collective ends, it should start with integrating its systems so there is a single point for any entity to access for all of that entity's affairs. That should start with a single tax account with a single entry point to services.

It is not just the personal business tax accounts; to access worldwide disclosure format as an agent using the same ID I have to enter through the web page for the format not through the ordinary portal. HMRC's approach to the digital world seems to be start with digital villages for each tax on different digital continents and hope some private sector explorer can find a lingua franca to link them up.

The PAC not only identifies the HMRC overruns but takes it to task for the cavalier impact assessment costs on those intended to have to use MTD. HMRC's attitude is, "My way or the die way". What else can you expect from it, when closing a helpline is written up as an improvement in services?

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By fmuk
15th Jun 2023 11:37

So Making Tax Digital is 'out of control'. No [***], Sherlock!

Could they have possibly spent the wasted time and money on updating their own systems?

Tried to De-register a client for VAT yesterday, had to fill out a form and post it to HMRC. Really, we can't do this digitally.
Registered a new partnership back in June 2022, it took over 5 months to receive the UTRs before we could register for VAT and another 4 months to get the VAT number. The client's still waiting for their refund from the first VAT Return submitted, as the cheque they posted apparently got lost. Not able to enter the bank details online.

HMRC sent a client multiple letters for a tax liability of £0.00. I advised the client to ignore each one as I'm not going to wait 40 minutes on the phone explaining that my client doesn't owe the £0.00 liability and they don't know their [***] from their elbow most of the time.

Why don't HMRC start spending some money on putting their own house in order and giving us an up-to-date digital system, that is fit for purpose, allowing agents to correspond digitally, and get simple things done in a timely manner?

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Replying to fmuk:
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By moneymanager
15th Jun 2023 14:42

"multiple letters showing a liability of £0.00"

I recently recieved a snotty demand for overdue VAT going back about three years with weasley words about "understanding the impact of Covid-19".

Not only was the sum paid on time in the first place but I 've already gone round this merrygoround before with their debt collection agency and an HMRC contact, I'm in proud possesion of the recorded conversation which HMRC sent me at my request, unable to message through any portal and unwilling to spend another hour of my life on hold, I sent yet another letter, could you make it up?

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Replying to moneymanager:
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By jamiea4f
16th Jun 2023 10:25

I think what that means is "understanding the impact of the government's response to Covid-19 and the trousering of millions of taxpayer's cash in various dodgy untraceable deals". No wonder people aren't paying.

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By moneymanager
15th Jun 2023 14:36

"Burman also cautioned that with the pace of technological change the world is currently experiencing, HMRC risks being left behind if it doesn’t deliver MTD to its latest timelines"

Self serving nonsense, the NEED for taxpayers, you konow, those euphamistic "customers" hasn;t changed one jot, MTD is a supposed solution looking for a supposed problem to solve as is a lot of other tech, it is increasingly obvious that it saves the end user no time, provides little if any benefit while the ever more opaque process accretes power and control to the centre, what are you going to do when the lights go out which the will.

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By Mr J Andrews
16th Jun 2023 14:47

So - Andrew Burman of Ryan Technology has pointed out to HMRC the risk of being '' left behind'' if current [ i.e. latest ] deadlines aren't met.
From what I see of this dumb MTD whim , the only suckers left behind will be the likes of I.T. / Software companies hoping to make a kill and cut their losses . The £billions already spent by the Govt. on this futile scheme has, of course , no accountability.
''Pause and take stock'' indeed. ''Pause and stop'' more like.

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