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CIOT president calls for MTD ITSA delay | Accountingweb
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CIOT president calls for MTD ITSA delay

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The Chartered Institute of Taxation president says the current timetable for the Making Tax Digital programme is unrealistic. In attempting to digitise without first undertaking a full review, Rebecca Cave feels the programme has put the cart before the horse.

12th Sep 2022
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Speaking at the CIOT’s 2022 parliamentary reception at the House of Commons, Susan Ball, Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) president, addressed three major concerns with the UK tax system.

Digitisation rollout

CIOT supports the digitisation of the tax system as set out in the government’s 10-year tax administration strategy. However, Ball emphasised in her speech that digitisation has to be rolled out in a way that everyone can cope with and benefit from.

Ball added: “The government should review the Making Tax Digital programme so it really does deliver better service to taxpayers, not simply more burdens.”

This is a sentiment that many AccountingWEB readers will agree with. 

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Replies (149)

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Replying to steve 12321:
Ray McCann
By Ray McCann
13th Sep 2022 09:09

?

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Replying to RayM55:
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By Rgab1947
13th Sep 2022 09:31

Is this a rant at "unqualified accountants" and those pesky sole traders.

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Replying to Rgab1947:
Ray McCann
By Ray McCann
13th Sep 2022 10:44

Nope.

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Replying to RayM55:
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By Hugo Fair
12th Sep 2022 11:47

"The whole direction of travel is digital, paper is dead, it may take ten or fifteen years but at some point if you are not digital you will not be able to be in business in any meaningful way."

True(ish) ... but there's a world of difference between what evolves over 10-15 years and trying to simply flick a switch for instant change.
People are not machines and need to be encouraged (as well as threatened) if you want to achieve a major change.
One of the most quickly implemented was the law on drink-driving, which only became a measurable success when attitudes changed (not just the penalties) - taking years of subtle nudges and massive public information advertising to achieve.

In the meantime, 10-15 years is almost a generation - and people have lives to lead, children to bring up and bills to pay whilst waiting for any evidence that digitalising their accounts has a benefit to them.

Thanks (13)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Ray McCann
By Ray McCann
12th Sep 2022 13:42

Agreed and I have nagged HMRC in almost everything I have published over the past decade and yet here we are still on the starting blocks.

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Replying to RayM55:
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By GHarr497688
12th Sep 2022 11:53

With all respect HMRC introduced three line accounts many years ago and also encouraged taxpayers to log into the online Accounts and file their own self assessment. I have lost many clients to this intervention by HMRC. Now suddenly it's full digital records - six times a year for many with a rental property having Income over £10,000 a year. You can't blame anyone other than HMRC who are negligent at all levels. How they can blame records for poor record keeping or Accountants for not processing on time when HMRC themselves are a complete shambles I just can't comprehend.

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Replying to GHarr497688:
Ray McCann
By Ray McCann
12th Sep 2022 13:15

Three line accounts were a disaster all round and I have laid the blame firmly at HMRC’s door. But the fact remains that even if HMRC had been fully on the ball thousands of business would still be struggling.

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Replying to RayM55:
Morph
By kevinringer
12th Sep 2022 13:56

3-line accounts are a doddle for the unrepresented:

Income = total bank credits per the bank statement
Expenses = total bank debits per the bank statement

Expenses will therefore include drawings, tax and other non-allowable items. But the unrepresented are not aware of it. MTD won't do anything to improve this. Surely HMRC should be aware of this, but they don't appear to be at all concerned. It appears their goal is "digitisation" regardless of the impact on accuracy.

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By Geoff56
12th Sep 2022 11:37

It has been reported by Accountancy Daily that Lucy Frazer has been replaced as financial secretary to the Treasury, by Andrew Griffith, who is a chartered accountant. I gather this means he will take over responsibility for oversight of the rollout of MTD.

One can but hope that a fresh mind will lead to something radical happening. However, apparently most of his 27 years before becoming an MP were spent in business with Sky plc, so I don't know how conversant he will be with the problems faced by smaller businesses and individuals. Andrew also worked with PWC and Rothschild, the report says.

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Replying to Geoff56:
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By Southwestbeancounter
12th Sep 2022 11:48

Sounded hopeful but he's not grass roots enough to 'get it' I fear.

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Replying to Southwestbeancounter:
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By Paul Crowley
12th Sep 2022 12:04

Too far away from trivial little clients and taxpayers
ICAEW are all for it, so where will the poor little blighter get any information about MTD? From HMRC and the software companies of course

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Replying to Geoff56:
By Nick Graves
12th Sep 2022 11:57

That's unsurprising - this entire MTD fiasco appears to have the Vampire Squid's tentacle-prints all over it.

Utilising gas futures trading to crush Germany's industrial might into insolvency seems to be working well. Since we don't have much industry left here, I suppose a bureaucratic nightmare might do the same for our service industries.

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Profile
By indomitable
12th Sep 2022 11:52

Ball has three recommendations for the Financial Secretary to the new Treasury:

I have three (four actually) recommendations for the Financial Secretary

Shelve or put a halt to ALL new initiatives
Give the head of HMRC Clear targets of what they need to fix in a reasonable time frame
Stop letting civil servants work from home
If the management of HMRC cannot deliver, sack them and get someone else in that can

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By fozia
12th Sep 2022 11:51

The tax system needs an overhaul full stop. There is no point digitising / automating a poor system, it will fall on it's face and the envisaged benefits will not be seen. There are definitely advantages for having a simpler, faster and more efficient system for all stakeholders, however, building something on weak foundations is asking for trouble and throwing taxpayers money at the problem is not a solution.

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Replying to fozia:
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By NotAnAccountant2
12th Sep 2022 13:10

fozia wrote:

The tax system needs an overhaul full stop. There is no point digitising / automating a poor system, it will fall on it's face and the envisaged benefits will not be seen. There are definitely advantages for having a simpler, faster and more efficient system for all stakeholders, however, building something on weak foundations is asking for trouble and throwing taxpayers money at the problem is not a solution.

One of the amusing things (to a non-accountant) is that part of what is almost guaranteeing that MTD will be a failure is down to the complexity of the tax system.

There is (as far as I can tell) very little reason for partnerships and jointly owned property to be treated differently at all other than some perceived need to tax them differently.

Do away with that difference and you've removed a whole slew of complexity from getting MTD to work. There is now one problem to solve rather than two.

The other thing that is likely to kill MTD even after it does go live (assuming that it does) is that it will dramatically restrict what politicians can do. They want to change the way let property is taxed - they will have to come up with the law change they want, then HMRC will have to decide how to implement it in MTD, then the software developers will have to do whatever is needed, and only then can the change that the politicians wanted actually happen. They'll be facing the wrath of the people who wanted the law change and the people who will be inconvenienced by it for years before it can actually happen.

(e.g. Imagine that MTD was already live and then they wanted to bring in the restriction of mortgage interest. All those "automatic tagging rules" that assigned it to expenses will have to be updated in everybody's MTD software.)

And all of that assumes that something doesn't go wrong at one of the stages that results in another change being needed - the law change introduces an unfortunate loophole that only becomes apparent after it's gone live three years later...

All of this also points to the fact that there will not be cheap solutions for anybody. It might start out cheap but it cannot stay cheap, each MTD software company is going to need teams of people constantly monitoring legislation change, HMRC notices, API updates etc and then distilling them into requirements for the software - from an HMRC who are apt to change course mid sentence - or even (apparently) tell different people different things.

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Replying to NotAnAccountant2:
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By raybackler
13th Sep 2022 09:22

What you have said is spot on about Self Assessment. This has already been happening for years with payroll software, which has to be updated every year for the legislative changes, so there is clear evidence that this will also be the norm for MTD for ITSA.

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Morph
By kevinringer
12th Sep 2022 11:52

We all want MTD scrapped but HMRC have invested so much in MTD that short of Liz Truss commanding it is scrapped, HMRC wouldn't agree to scrapping it. Instead, it'll have to be whittled away. That starts with postponement, something that has been done several times already. HMRC could agree to this without losing face: indeed they could say they are responding to user requirements. It would be for the PBs and "customers" to keep the pressure and get the MTD-can kicked down the road again, and again, and again.

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By CJaneH
12th Sep 2022 12:01

Yesterday I listened to file on 4 (Radio 4) which was on the computerisation of criminal court system. Needless to say like Horizon and the Post Office it is not working and as a result people are being released or detained when they should not be. I cannot see that MTD will be any better than these two.

Society has an insane trust of computerisation. Because the failure of the systems damages small groups of people the problems are not picked up by the media or MP's.

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Replying to CJaneH:
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By Paul Crowley
12th Sep 2022 12:10

When Humans rely trustingly on software errors happen. Digitisation is just creating data. Humans should make decisions after confirming that the data is reliable information.
A total impossibility for HMRC

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By BryanS1958
12th Sep 2022 12:17

"The MTD programme needs to equally reduce costs and make life easier for small businesses and their advisers. "

Frankly, as things stand, this is an impossibility. The programme offers no cost savings or benefits, only more red tape and cost increases for small businesses, landlords and their advisors.

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By DMBAcc
12th Sep 2022 12:29

Just remember Dogma doesn't need to justify itself. It is simply prejudice nothing else. Let's call it as it is - HMRC reckons every taxpayer is a thief. Therefore let's screw them to the floor. I'm reading "1984" by George Orwell again - so depressing especially when you see the similarities in today's world. Let's hope someone has a sane moment in HM Treasury and delays this until they have a system that really does benefit all.

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Replying to DMBAcc:
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By Mallock
12th Sep 2022 14:00

Between 25 and 30 years ago at an ACCA event in Glasgow, a senior HMRC officer (to remain nameless) addressed the large audience and his opening words were "as far as HMRC is concerned, all self employed taxpayers are at it"

The fact that after all these years I still remember it like it was yesterday is testament to the shock and dismay I felt when I heard him.

Perhaps doing away with cash and/or requiring monthly or quarterly tax payments might solve the vast majority of the reasons HMRC are pushing for MTD.

In a recent meeting with two elderly property owning taxpayers to discuss MTD, the outcome (despite my protestations) was that they are going to sell all their properties. Is it any wonder that with looming MTD, additional Stamp Duty (or what ever they want to call it now), reduced tax relief on mortgage interest and the general attack on landlords, there is now a shortage of properties to rent and in University towns a huge housing problem.

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By digitalabacus
12th Sep 2022 12:40

MTD ITSA delay or scrapping

Going back to basics

Such a major change has to be paid for - the concern is that this will be the taxpayer as always and the hardworking accountant and tax agent. The latter will have to work out not just the explanation of what needs to be done but to ensure the software solution is in place and how the extra time and effort is going to be billed.

The bigger issue is not realising that this needs a firmer approach from the very people who in a democracy place the MPs ( the lawmakers ) in their position and let them know that none of this is possible without our taxation.

That's us - small businesses - the powerhouse of the UK - that ensure that government and big business exists in the first place. Say something like "Enough is Enough"

Whenever change or a fantastic new digital process appears we must ask the question
"What problem is this the solution to?" If the answer is "None" or "don't know" then leave it alone.

So here is the simplification process

1. Leave MTD for VAT where it is. Scrap the rest before it's too late
2. Amalgamate Income Tax and NIC together into one rate so that two systems of rules do not have to be navigated.
3. Get rid of the coding system by having a single nil rate band
4. Employ enough staff so that telephone waiting times are reduced and letters are answered promptly
5. Treat Agents as though we are partners ensuring that the right amount of tax is paid and get rid of that part of the automated telephone system that states "any form of abuse will not be tolerated" This is demeaning to us in our profession .

That's it

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By BryanS1958
12th Sep 2022 13:00

Someone in the Treasury/HMRC has a bright idea (nor very bright, but......).

They decide to spend millions on it first, without testing the market to see whether it is a good idea. Having spent millions. they are now compelled to spend even more millions trying to force it to be a good idea for someone (not the market!).

If it was a business it would fail. Luckily for HMRC it seems that there are endless millions of taxpayers' funds at its disposal.

Incidentally, I did receive a response from one of my professional bodies, here is an extract:

"However, we have to accept that (unfortunately) MTD is not going to be scrapped – the digital genie is out of the bottle, but this does not mean that we have rolled over and accepted what is coming in 2024. We, along with the other professional bodies, are frequently and regularly liaising with HMRC to ensure the huge number of questions surrounding MTD are answered, and that 2024 won’t be the nightmare we fear it will be."

So the professional bodies have already rolled over and accepted that MTD ITSA is inevitable.

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Replying to BryanS1958:
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By Jo Nokes
12th Sep 2022 13:35

Yes, that was in effect the reply I received when I suggested that ICAEW should never have engaged with HMRC in the first place. They are now in intense discussions, as the monthly publication informs us , every month. As has been pointed out, the institute seems to be run by the very large firms, and it feels like the small guy’s concerns are totally overlooked. I don’t know how many members of accountingWEB there are, but it seems most are completely opposed to MTD. The few who were in favour have stopped posting, perhaps fearing the kicking they would get. At some stage, this project will be revealed to the public. We need to inform the editors of the money pages about our concerns, to stop them being sucked in as fanboys for HMRC

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Morph
By kevinringer
12th Sep 2022 14:01

The tax system has to be made more logical before it can be digitised. A few weeks ago a couple of clients received SA302MM notifying them of changes to their 2016-17 tax calculations. Tim Good had spotted errors in HMRC's 2016-17 calculator before the start of the SA filing window but HMRC had not acted on the information, after the window opened HMRC admitted they'd got it wrong but couldn't fix it for 6 months, October they issued an in-year software fix, I filed my client's returns, months later HMRC decided they'd got it wrong and issued SA302MM changing the tax, I appealed and it took several letters over more than 12 months before we got anywhere, 2022 HMRC issue SA302MM basically agreeing with Tim Good from over 5 years previously. How would MTD ITSA have coped with this?

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David Ross
By davidross
12th Sep 2022 14:26

Yawn !

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By Mr J Andrews
12th Sep 2022 14:58

On the Ball.
The only point missed by the CIOT president is that it was a totally dumb idea in the first place.

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Replying to Mr J Andrews:
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By Open all hours
12th Sep 2022 18:08

We have been horrendously let down by all pbs for years where MTD is concerned.

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By norstar
12th Sep 2022 15:29

I'm a bit tired of dealing with HMRC now if I'm honest.

If they don't like rules, they change them retrospectively.

If they don't like the way things are done, they change the rules going forward.

Then they roll out more penalty provisions to pummel the public who fall foul of the stupid rules they came up despite everyone telling them it will be a nightmare.

Then when you appeal or try to resolve a problem, they don't answer the letter or the phone.
Despite surveys and bluster, they don't care what anyone thinks.

As a small business specialist, I'm very disillusioned now.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
12th Sep 2022 17:00

From the OTS publication 'Evaluation and Update note: Agents working with taxpayers and HMRC Feb 2022
It seems that only 9 people have been taking part in the MTD pilot...

"The current pilot is limited to taxpayers who are established self-employed or landlords currently in self-assessment, who have a 5 April year end and who have not received COVID support under the self employed scheme or furlough scheme and who do not have any employee or pension income, taxable state benefits, capital gains or non-UK investment income.

The OTS understands that this means that even a large accountancy practice would have very few eligible clients. Limited testing (recent reports suggest there are currently only 9 people taking part), given this narrow constraint, will mean that the current pilot is much less effective than is ideal. The OTS understands that the pilot will be extended later in 2022 and it is hoped this
will allow fuller testing."

>> I suggest that the OTS's 'hope' will not be realised

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By Hash
12th Sep 2022 17:21

I believe it is one of those where even if they believe it is a bad project; they have bigged it up too much to backpedal now.

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By eppingaccountant
12th Sep 2022 17:51

I have a much better suggestion. Abandon the unnecessary and confusing proposed introduction of MTD for good.

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By steve 12321
12th Sep 2022 18:12

Accountants are a very capable bunch and can do so much more than help people with additional pointless compliance, just the necessary compliance! How about we advise on business development, growth and employment etc. More income, more profits, more jobs, more fun and maybe, just maybe, more taxes! All we need is a "once a year" tax return to allow more time for useful activities!! Go get the covid fraudsters! That would be much more useful. We can get the bricklayer clients and other trades to build HMG some prisons perhaps?

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By Beef curtains
12th Sep 2022 19:07

Let there be no delay. Abolish the entire idiotic nonsense forthwith!!

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By chronus
12th Sep 2022 19:23

The sole reason for IMTD is to reduce HMRC`s costs in tackling the so called "tax gap", a fictional figure derived by much hocus- pokus dished out by guru chefs working in the kitchens of the Treasury.
In contrast there is very little done to stem the enormous loss of blood caused by the promoters of tax dodge schemes.
Right in the wake of one of the biggest disasters, COVID, to hit us all on the planet, we are now facing the enormity of a major economic crisis. Add to that, the fact climate change is now no longer a thing for debate and discussion by scientists, we are very much in a situation where necessaries become a matter for survival.
I was an articled clerk during the 1970`s power cuts. We carried on working in the light of candles. How are we going to do that now, without our electricity dependent computers, phones, banking systems, freezers, fridges, Christmas lights, tea kettles, coffee machines, not to forget our zero carbon emission cars.
The whole thing needs to be shelved until such time when we are in a better position to see our future and make plans accordingly.
I wrote to Liz Truss before she became PM about this, as she seemed keen to reduce taxes. I did say to her, it was not so much tax per se, it was more a matter of its burden. The burden of IMTD is wholly untimely, unnecessary and unjust. I got the usual automated reply.

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By jonharris999
12th Sep 2022 19:51

Well, not for the first time am I the person walking in the opposite direction...

It's too late to delay or cancel now. To do so will cause more confusion, not less.

Many valid and fair criticisms are raised, all of which need addressing and remedy.

But:

All my VAT-regd sole traders didn't 'get' MTD for VAT as an idea, but all without exception are pleased they do it now.

And, as I've said here before, when you explain bank-fed MTD ITSA to graduates starting out as sole traders, it makes 100% perfect sense; and the idea of keeping a wonky spreadsheet, supported by a shoebox of paper, translated onto a form 9-21 months later - sounds - barking mad.

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By steve 12321
12th Sep 2022 21:26

Completely agree on having a proper accounting system as it is so much easier, sure, but not suitable for all. It is the quarterly reporting and final submissions and amendments etc - that I take issue with as it seems much harder to me and it will not really benefit the taxpayer. Everything has to be paid for. If Annual fees are X and become X +?, for no actual benefit (assuming they have a suitable system to file quarterly), what exactly is the benefit in doing so? Let's put ourselves in the client's shoes here. Can we really say it is better? It is simply too complicated. Can't we spend thinking and actual time on productive activities and make sure we get our annual taxes right? Of course, as accountants we might be able to make some money for doing this work, but at the client's expense. I can't say this seems right to me if it is not needed in the first place. I know the direction of travel for me, sadly.

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By adjadj
12th Sep 2022 21:24

Taking your points in turn

“It’s too late to delay” To go live with an untested system with millions of taxpayers carries the risk of a melt-down worse than the catastrophic TSB migration failure in 2018. In 2018 a few hundred thousand people faced widespread disruption. A failure of MTD ITSA, would impact millions and could result in the Government being unable to collect tax due

There is no comparison between MTD VAT and MTD ITSA. For MTD VAT the only change is the need to use specific software to send data to HMRC; business users were already doing this on a quarterly basis and the data is the same as before. For MTD ITSA user need to do something totally different on a quarterly basis and the EOPS is an additional process at the end of year. The range of data fields is much greater and the data traffic is two-way.

Some business may be able to works from just a bank feed. I have rental income, my expenses arise from multiple streams including deductions by the agent; credit card bills and mileage costs

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Replying to adjadj:
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By Paul Crowley
12th Sep 2022 22:08

Agree
Letting of property is just so different from self-employment that comparison is impossible
HMRC already get suitable data from letting agents.
income cannot be logically autofed without human oversight

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By spilly
12th Sep 2022 23:24

So why not make MTDSA compulsory just for new businesses etc after Apr 24? Others can join it if they feel it might benefit them, otherwise let it become a gradual roll-out over many years.
Yes, it would mean having two systems, but the legacy one would tail off naturally as people retire/die.

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Replying to spilly:
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By jonharris999
13th Sep 2022 04:12

All very valid points above, and I am far from saying that the idea is perfect, but they aren't deal-breakers for me.

I do accept that there is a good case for excepting landlords and I don't think it's too late to U-turn on that.

But for sole traders -

Quarterly is better than annual. It's more likely to be accurate and both sides are likely to think harder about where they are. I don't dispute that it's more effort. But more effort isn't a bad thing if it gets a better result.

If MTD ITSA drives clients towards accountants, or towards a more frequent engagement with their accountants, that is likely to be better for them, not worse. It will avoid mistakes and therefore save time, hassle and money in the long run. If you are charging more than your customer would save by doing it all on their own - even if that is only in the time that you save them - then you are probably over-charging anyway.

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By SimonP
13th Sep 2022 07:24

All I can say to this post is that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Clients will naturally make mistakes in their bookkeeping, irrespective of whether their books are reviewed quarterly or annually. And speaking for myself, the end result will be the same, neither better nor worse, because I do a damn good job checking those records. And my clients know better than to try and deliberately claim something they shouldn't because they know it'll never get past me.

And the remark about "probably over-charging" doesn't merit a response.

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Replying to SimonP:
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By jonharris999
13th Sep 2022 09:20

Why not?

If you really believed that your clients would make a net saving on their resources if they did not engage you, why would you do it at all?

You think DIY sole-trader clients are more sensible than those who engage accountants?

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By SimonP
13th Sep 2022 22:59

Why not ... what? Sorry, but that reply doesn't make any sense. My comment was about whether preparing quarterly books was better than preparing annual books. Methinks you've replied to the wrong post, my friend.

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By Eric T
13th Sep 2022 08:38

jonharris999 wrote:

All very valid points above, and I am far from saying that the idea is perfect, but they aren't deal-breakers for me.

I do accept that there is a good case for excepting landlords and I don't think it's too late to U-turn on that.

But for sole traders -

Quarterly is better than annual. It's more likely to be accurate and both sides are likely to think harder about where they are. I don't dispute that it's more effort. But more effort isn't a bad thing if it gets a better result.

If MTD ITSA drives clients towards accountants, or towards a more frequent engagement with their accountants, that is likely to be better for them, not worse. It will avoid mistakes and therefore save time, hassle and money in the long run. If you are charging more than your customer would save by doing it all on their own - even if that is only in the time that you save them - then you are probably over-charging anyway.

Why is quarterly better than annual for small sole traders?

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Replying to Eric T:
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By jonharris999
13th Sep 2022 09:16

If you were the management accountant of a SME, would you be serving your Directors better if you gave them a quarterly report 4 weeks after the quarter-end, or an annual report 9 months after it?

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By johnjenkins
13th Sep 2022 09:26

Since when does a SE earning 20K need a management report?????????????????????
You've totally lost the point, John.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By jonharris999
13th Sep 2022 10:46

I didn't say they did. I said that quarterly information is better than annual information.

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Replying to jonharris999:
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By johnjenkins
13th Sep 2022 11:09

Not in all circumstances, John. When the cost of providing that information outways producing that information that you are already aware of, then of course it isn't better.
There is always a "cut off" point where paperwork (computer work) is not necessary, but to make that work mandatory for no benefit whatsoever is a pointless exercise. Surely, as an intelligent man, John, you can see that.

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