D V Fields
Member Since: 7th Dec 2013
13th Sep 2017
Whilst the new directions should be generally welcomed you only have to examine a few sets of published accounts on the Charity Commission website to realise that many examiners, despite using the standard examiner's report, are unaware that there were ten directions; now they are unaware that there are thirteen directions plus two other issues to consider.
The most despairing are those from the big firms who start their report with "We" and no doubt are now wondering what on earth am I talking about!
10th Sep 2017
Amongst many things HMRC have to abide by their "Your Charter" which point 1.2 indicates they will not cause unnecessay costs to the taxpayer. Possibly - I say possibly because I am not sure HMRC know of its existence - why spreadsheets are acceptable as a recording tool.
Sadly for now let's leave their misguided reasons for MTDfB to one side.
I do not have inside information so I can only go on reputable sources. Earlier in the year MTD was criticised by one of the Select Committees (one of those groups anyway) for not having provided enough specification as to what was required. The best I have seen since is this will indeed be the three line summary for eligible entities and ( not substantiated but probable ) a mini SA103 form. If correct then at some point in the process a table is required to hold the relevant data. Microsoft Excel is capable of achieving this. If Microsoft Excel meets the requirement of being able to link with the API to transfer data to HMRC then what can be the objection? I am not a great fan of Microsoft Access; not overly convinced by cloud based product but accept they have a vital role to play, but these are not reasons for barring those solutions.
You mention HMRC want software that meets MTD testing. Again without inside knowledge I have not seen this confirmed and most definately have not seen the "testing" specification. I am sure with a detailed specification we could design our spreadsheets accordingly. Firstly the three line summary or SA103. Generate a table and populate from required data sources.
Other tests? The "prompts and nudges?" Let's speculate on what these might be:
"Are you sure that figure is correct?"
"You must include those cash sales you keep leaving off the return."
"Your rent figure is higher than last quarter - are you sure it is correct?"
"Your rent figure is lower than last quarter, we think you have falsified last quarter's return and will prosecute you."
"Your invoice numbers are not consecutive - are you trying to hide income - we'll catch you?
I don't see a problem building those in.
How will HMRC verify this, you ask? Two possible options: Tick a box to say you comply, or provide a checklist with determined inputs and expected results and then a tick box to say it complies. I can do that. I don't really see HMRC running the checks themselves - even if they had the resources.
If Excel has the capabilities of interfacing with the API's then I am struggling to see a valid reason for it not being a permissible solution. Maybe we've (I) have been making the assumption that it is not; cannot think of any reason why there would be a rush to dispel such confusion!
On your example, some twenty years' ago the software package I used would warn you if you posted to control accounts and would also have default tax codes assigned to customer and supplier accounts; now granted stupidity has no limits, it seems a shame ( or maybe preceding comment explains) if SageOne hasn't found a solution to that problem. Never been a problem with the spreadsheet solutions. Alas.
9th Sep 2017
The key though is, I believe, the interface table. Whether you use a software package written in whatever language, ultimately you want the key data populated somewhere and then to be able to connect. Maybe I am being too simplistic but the accounting software is going to take the data entered and ultimately report, for example, the three line summary into a database table. Now presumably they have spent thousand on this because they didn't have the foresight to build reporting codes into the accounting structure to facilitate this. I am not saying they should have seen MTDfB coming, if indeed it ever does, but reporting codes is schoolboy stuff. Now once you populated this table - hook up with the API to do what ever is needed to transfer the data. If you have populated the table wrongly, then yes it will ultimately be wrong. However that error can be made equally by the software programmer or the spreadsheet designer; I know who I will trust. Equally, post income to an expenditure code, it may appear right!
I see HMRC checking the three line summary contains three numeric fields to prescribed number of decimal places; maybe that the third number is the first less the second, unless we are talking taxable not accounting. I don't see them testing irrelevant "prompts and nudges" even if they could define them or had the ability. Both you and I could put validation on any excel data input cell for such nonsense. I suspect HMRC are effectively approving the final table not how the data got there.
So whether you have 50 apps or millions of spreadsheets, what matters, in my view, and happy to be shown the error of my ways, is that final interface table. Excel is capable of providing that table. If spreadsheets are to be an acceptable recording tool, as we are led to believe, but it requires some intermediary, what exactly is this intermediary going to do, other than generate the same table to provide the ultimate link to the API? Cut out the middleman.
If you can navigate your way through registering your software with HMRC then I would guess configuring the table in the right format would have been the least of your concerns.
Maybe one for the Excel community at some point.
My thoughts anyway.
9th Sep 2017
Presumably, one concept of the API is to link any Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) compliant database to the HMRC portal to do its stuff. Given that Microsoft Excel is ODBC compliant then why don't we get an API to link to the spreadsheets; job done? Sure the spreadsheet will need to be robust enough to ensure that there is a defined table populated correctly with required summary data ( the three line summary - of which one of them might be a calculation of the others; or the boxes on the VAT return ). Cannot be too difficult can it?
9th Sep 2017
?... that is how can you plan for something when you don't know what the outcome of the negotiations are going to be?
... and that is exactly what MTDfB compliant software touted by the software companies have done. More fool them.
8th Sep 2017
I wonder whether the Club could have avoided hitting own wicket by previously merging with or reforming its constitution to that of a local charitable community association. The aim being that both sporting activities and social events are part of its primary purpose. But hindsight is a wonderful thing!
27th Aug 2017
I'm going to completely ignore this, and see how it goes.
A bit like that MTD thingy - what was that all about?
27th Aug 2017
A helpful article thank you.
Whilst the following recent article will not answer all the questions posted here it will nevertheless help put things into perspective.
25th Aug 2017
Si if an employee refuses there information to be shared with anyone else, what's the position with HMRC RTI Full Payment Submission. Does the employer provide information to HMRC for PAYE purposes or not?.
What do you think? Aside from the legal requirement to provide the information to HMRC you could always take a more practical approach with the employee; "If you don't want us to legally report the payment to HMRC, which we will do, your alternative is not to be paid. Which is it?"
That should resolve it for you.
24th Aug 2017
A refreshing article with commonsense at its core.
Would you consider doing an article on MTD compliant software; whatever that means?