Member Since: 29th Dec 2005
6th Aug 2015
A good move
Many of us who have had direct experience of Aspire and the Aspire contract believe that it has been a source of bureaucracy and unnecessary cost and the shift away from Aspire can only be a good move, in principle. The contract is not being broken up between 100 suppliers - many of the tasks are being brought back in-house, from where they should never have shifted in the first place. HMRC was actually running much of its IT successfully back in the 1990s - the shift to outsourcing was a politically-motivated move based on the belief that private contractors could do better (carried through by the Labour administration as much as by the Conservative one). All that happened was that almost all staff and much equipment was shifted from HMRC to the private consortium of the time (the Aspire consortium took over later after unsatisfactory performance by the first), who then charged HMRC far more for the staff than they cost when in-house. This may be a simplified view - but those of us who saw it happening would argue that it is a broadly accurate one.
That said, it may prove a challenge for HMRC to reabsorb and reallocate these tasks and systems at a time of unprecedented cost-cutting within government. I am thus not dismissing the Auditor General's warnings. I only hope that HMRC are given sufficient resources to ensure they have the expertise needed to handle this change. (In case this comment is misunderstood, I am now in semi-retirement and am not one of the potential expert resources that they will require.)
14th May 2010
Mansion tax issue
For heaven's sake: the mansion tax proposal was obviously ludicrous and one of the few good things to have come out of the new government so far is that it has been dropped. It was a wealth tax by another name and a very skewed one at that. If I have two (ten, twenty) properties each worth £1.9 million I would not pay it, but if I have one property worth £2.1 million then I would. Similarly, if I live in a five bedroom property with a large garden in most areas of the country then I would not pay it, but if I live in one in parts of London and the south-east then I would. If I switch my property worth £2.1 million to £2.1 million in a savings account then I have the same wealth, but pay no direct tax on the asset. Fair? Fair, my foot. Taxing income, gains, purchases and use of services (rates) is one thing, taxing people on what they already own is another. Apart from all that, there would have been huge problems in making the tax work. The only people to benefit would have been accountants and lawyers as they fought expensively over valuations... Perhaps that explains some of the views in favour...
17th Mar 2010
Re: Lack of Info
Firstly, 'turnercrw', congratulations on getting the tagging done with Dragon Tag. That shows you the main process involved in manual tagging - I'm also sure that software will improve dramatically in user friendliness over the coming months. You may want to try different software packages to assess their ease of use.
The format that is required for filing in XBRL in the UK is Inline XBRL or iXBRL, as Simon's original article mentions. This is basically HMTL with XBRL tags buried in it. A human can read the HTML in the ordinary way (without seeing the tags unless he/she wants to) and a computer reads the tags.
The use of iXBRL is being emphasised in HMRC and other publications, so if this message was not clear in the event you attended, then it soon will be through other routes.
Dragon Tag, produced by Rivet Software, is a US product and XBRL filing in the US is not in Inline XBRL (yet). I am thus not sure if Dragon Tag properly produces Inline XBRL at this stage. Rivet said last year that they were going to include this in their output, and I thought they had done so, at least in prototype for Excel. However, I am not certain of this and you may need to contact Rivet if you plan to continue to use their product (using the tagging work you have already done). Products marketed here will definitely support Inline XBRL. I also expect they will have features to make the filing process smooth and easy. Olive Browne has mentioned Seahorse; this e-mail thread also mentions Caseware and Forbes and there will be others.
In fact, in tagging with Dragon Tag, you have already done the difficult bit if you are using a manual process, which is the tagging.
12th Mar 2010
Re: XBRL and the small accountant
Well, HMRC and Companies House will be providing free software for really simple company accounts. I believe some software suitable for fairly straightforward company accounts will be available for a few hundred pounds per year (total licence, not per client). Clearly, more elaborate packages from software vendors catering for more substantial filing or accounts of more substantial companies will cost more.
One basic fact, however, is that people will need software - and properly developed software - to file. Bespoke, home-made systems based on Excel are very unlikely to work. That may be why your filings so far have failed.
12th Mar 2010
Definitely don't try this...
No one, not even an experienced XML developer, should try manually to create a report in iXBRL. Those with accounts in Excel or Word should use one of the products which are gradually becoming available to create iXBRL. You mention a couple in your article, but others have been or will shortly be announced.
I'm the lead author of the XBRL UK taxonomies representing GAAP and IFRS, but I would never contemplate trying to create iXBRL manually. It's a bit like trying to create a Word document by avoiding Microsoft Word and trying to manipulate the underlying code instead. Dealing with the syntax is difficult enough, but there are also technical features like tuples and dimensions to handle. This is all intended to be handled by software - hiding the technicality from users. As you say, the work for the vast majority of companies will be handled by their accounting or tax software packages. Those companies, primarily the large ones, whose processes demand final conversion from Word or Excel versions will find products available. For example, one very large company has been beta-testing a couple of products over the past few months which are not mentioned in your article.
I am not able to list forthcoming products (I'm bound to maintain confidentiality over plans that I've heard from specific companies), but they will be there.
In addition, XBRL UK (with HMRC and Companies House) will be publishing a guide in the next few weeks to help those who face the task of manual tagging using software. Clearly, software companies will also be providing user guides specific to their applications. There will be a lot of help out there.
I think you deserve a medal for your attempts on this ('bravery beyond the call of duty'?) but my response to your question on whether people should attempt the manual creation of iXBRL is "No, don't even try".
6th Oct 2008
XBRL - certainly not a dodo
I detect a campaign by some software companies to avoid the bother of implementing XBRL rather than a serious criticism of the introduction of the language for business reporting.
SMEs should be unaffected by the change, provided software companies implement XBRL properly.
The benefits come in much more efficient processes and cost savings at HMRC and other consumers - which tax payers should be glad to see - and better targetted HMRC enquiries - which all should be glad to see.
The chances of incorrectly allocated tags are actually low and will fall further with experience. (How difficult is to apply a tag labelled 'operating profit', with all the correct accounting references, calculation links etc. to the correct line item in the accounts?)
You bet some software companies are cynical - they don't see enough profit in it for themselves. Other software companies are more sensible and see opportunities - as well as the public benefits which will flow from XBRL adoption.