Member Since: 24th Sep 2015
17th Sep 2020
I should have thought that the principles established in Conn v Robins Brothers, as summarised at BIM35480, would have led HMRC to the same conclusion as the Tribunal.
15th Sep 2020
Oh dear! How far HMRC's tax expertise has fallen that they could even consider that they might win this case. It matters, of course, that the experts are so poorly equipped to do their job but it matters even more that they are able so wantonly to waste the time and money of taxpayers, their agents and the Tribunal. At least someone within HMRC had sufficient grasp to abandon any thoughts of appealing.
Somebody should have their knuckles rapped over this one. It's not even a difficult point - and certainly not one which is arguable.
31st May 2019
Very clear and useful article. Thanks.
23rd May 2019
When VAT was introduced we were told that it was a 'simple tax'. It was not supposed to be a burden on businesses because it was 'so simple' they wouldn't need professional help to comply with the law. Neither Tax Inspectors not accountants thought they would need to trouble their heads with it. That was at a time when the Taxes Acts in their entirety were contained in a single, not very thick, volume and professionals (both inside and outside the Inland Revenue) had a complete grasp of the legislation.
The greater the complexity, the greater the room for error and the less fair the tax system is seen to be. To increase the complexity by throwing the need to master and use software into the pot simply alienates and antagonises taxpayers and, judging from some of the comments above, sours relations between professional and client (and, it seems, between professionals!).
We need a real effort to simplify the tax system so that everyone, taxpayers and professionals alike, can understand it and know whether or not the software designed to take the drudgery out of compliance is producing the right answer. Instead, the reliance on software is disguising the dangers of allowing the system to grow in complexity (indeed, encouraging it), increasing the risk of the whole edifice collapsing.
22nd May 2019
However, why is the user using a method that they don't understand rather than using a tried and tested method which they were comfortable with and which gave the right result?
And why was it possible for the user to make the mistake? If they were getting it right before, they knew what scheme they were using so it must have been a lack of clarity in the way the software presented the options to the user that lay behind the error.
It's always simple when we know how and it's unnecessary and a grave mistake to sneer at people who don't (yet) know how.
22nd May 2019
It is an inherent problem with both the software and MTD.
It is an inherent problem with MTD because software is required to comply with the statutory requirements and it is an inherent problem with the software because the way the software works is impenetrable for most people so they are required to trust the outputs. Surely no accountants prepare a set of accounts manually to check that their accounting software is producing a correct set of accounts.
If taxpayers were previously getting the right answer using manual processes, then errors post MTD must lie at the door of the requirement to use software instead, and of the shortcomings of the available software.
11th Apr 2019
That's right. Our software was on the list of HMRC approved (I'm not sure that they go so far as to actually 'endorse' any software, do they?).
11th Apr 2019
"MTD is difficult because it involves the interplay between a number of computer systems. It is, therefore, harder to work out where the problem lies."
And so we all end up on the merry-go-round of everyone refusing to accept any responsibility for the problem and blaming someone else's systems/software for causing it and directing us to speak to the other party because "Sorry, we can't help you".
Nor is it just MTD. This seems to be the norm that we're all expected to accept and live with since everything has become computerised. Perhaps we'll solve all their problems for them by simply giving up the will to live.
11th Apr 2019
A very useful and timely article John - particularly in our case, having just put the phone down after speaking to HMRC.
Having just registered our company for MTD and sorted out a glitch at the software end that was preventing me from authorising the software to speak to HMRC, I then found that when I could authorise the contact, as far as HMRC is concerned, "the taxpayer" (that is, our company) "doesn't exist". Twenty minutes on hold and then through to the HMRC VAT help desk, who then had to put me through to an MTD specialist. Extremely pleasant chap who wanted to be helpful but said that any help he could give would be very limited as he had no way of knowing how the software works and what it was doing.
I spent the whole of yesterday and all of this morning trying to ensure that we are in the position to fulfil our legal obligations under MTD. I still don't know if we are, so I am keeping a copy of this article, notes of phone call with the software suppliers and with HMRC to demonstrate that you can do your best but sometimes even that isn't enough. And this, despite everyone doing their best within the limits imposed on them to be as helpful as possible. But for this I think I'd have lost the will to live
21st Feb 2019
As you say,
"If the commission aren't prepared to change then there are only two solutions, stay or leave. "
That, I think, is the position in a nutshell. Their flexibility or intransigence needs to be established immediately (hence the 'one year, no change, leave' proposal) and, given the referendum result, the only advantage of the one year delay before leaving proposal would be a chance for both sides to come together and work towards as successful withdrawal as possible if remaining after reform is not an option. Pie in the sky?