MTD VAT service to undergo scheduled shut down

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HMRC is undertaking the final wave of scheduled MTD for VAT service maintenance this week before the ribbon is officially cut on the project next month.

The temporary closure from 5pm on Friday 15 March until the morning of Tuesday 19 March means the pilot users will be unable to access their MTD accounts or make submissions and will also prevent anyone from joining the scheme.

Alerting agents, HMRC’s director of Making Tax Digital Theresa Middleton explained that the scheduled closure is to release additional functionality. Namely, it will open the MTD doors to those with an existing direct debit and non-UK companies.

When the service reopens, the MTD pilot users will no longer be able to submit VAT returns using the legacy options such as XML or online VAT portal. Instead, Middleton described a “generation of error messages” waiting for those attempting to submit via the legacy services following the maintenance, meaning MTD software will be the only option for those users going forward.

“I recognise this is happening close to 1 April, but continuing to iterate and expand the service is an important part of the pilot and in practice 1st April is not a ‘cliff edge’ for sign-ups,” said Middleton.

“We have seen through the pilot that many businesses are choosing to sign-up during their VAT period rather than at the beginning of it (which is fine as long as they are keeping their records digitally from the beginning of the period), and for some quarterly filers their first VAT period under MTD won’t start until 1 June.”

Middleton advised pilot participants to hold off from filing their VAT return early and wait until the service reopens since the next return deadline is not until 7 April.

With only a handful of weeks to go before the first businesses are required to join, an HMRC spokesperson confirmed to AccountingWEB that this maintenance is part of the final pilot phase to ensure “everything is in place and fully tested”.

Maintenance aside, Middleton painted a picture of little disruption, explaining that payments will continue as normal, while agents will still be able to create an agent services account. The only potential system kink was flagged to users who manage to join the pilot immediately before the closure. Those that register before the service doors close may face a short delay in receiving their sign-up confirmation.

That’s not to say practitioners haven’t experienced or reported any MTD frustrations. The ongoing Any Answers query about the lack of client list in the agent services account charts is one of the headaches that practitioners have grappled with so far.

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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14th Mar 2019 07:38

What could possibly go wrong?

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14th Mar 2019 10:43

So Middleton thinks there will be 'a little disruption' does she? The 'disruption' started on Monday. I tried for 4 days to get through to the VAT helpline. In the end I got into the office early yesterday and at exactly 8.04am started to ring. The waiting time was 25 minutes. No webchats were available for the whole 4 days.

Yes I know I didnt sit on the phone continually but when I eventually got through (and thats another story I'll put in my blog) I asked why the long wait.

The HMRC person on the other line said it was a combination of Brexit but the vast majority were from those who had received HMRC's letter and knew nothing about MTD.

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to Jennifer Adams
14th Mar 2019 17:21

bring it on....if each Accountant sends in a query for each client to the written enquires team what would they do.
That Middleton Director person is so smug it makes me cringe !

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By maxdale
15th Mar 2019 08:41

So far our experience has been a disaster, culminating with us being unable to switch our own partnership onto MTD. When we attempted this by logging into our own partnership login (ie not through the old agent login) then selecting to make MTD active it just told us that there was a problem and we could not do it. We logged the problem with the helpdesk who did not believe us and made us take screenshots of every stage of the process - which we did (we are very helpful like that and it only took half an hour). Then they told us that we had found a bug and could not register and we should continue to use the old system.

So they are obviously completely ready for the go live in a couple of weeks.

Have heard nothing since then!!!

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to maxdale
15th Mar 2019 10:13

We've experienced the exact same problem.

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to maxdale
25th Mar 2019 18:17

I might even wait (both to cease my impeccable paper record keeping and to buy software and to register) until they fine me at this rate. Sounds a lot cheaper......

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15th Mar 2019 09:12

It must be something about the name Theresa that makes you think what you are doing is perfect and nothing could go wrong

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