HMRC has advised users that its MTD for VAT beta platform will be offline for maintenance over the weekend.
Existing participants in the MTD pilot scheme will be able to continue making submissions through the MTD gateway, but a service availability announcement issued on Monday explains that from 5:30pm on Friday afternoon until 8:30am on Tuesday 12 February. most elements of the service will be inaccessible, including:
The sign-up mechanism for the MTD for VAT pilot scheme
The online tax account showing previous submissions and payment details
Direct debit records and admin processes
Agent Services Account set-up.
The timing of the outage on the first weekend after self assessment season might make some sense, but as one industry source told AccountingWEB, this is exactly when a lot of accountants will be turning their attention to final preparations for the great MTD for VAT migration.
Any practitioner heeding the advice of their software developers and practice coaches might want to use this time to catch up with their MTD admin by setting up their Agent Services Account, getting clients to sign up and authorise them, and then migrating them into the pilot in time to do a test filing before the scheme becomes mandatory in April.
Those preparations will now not be possible until next week.
Opening up the pilot
A spokesperson for HMRC told AccountingWEB that the update will “release additional functionality to allow us to open up the pilot later in February to the majority of customers within the small deferral group.”
Back in October, the tax authority announced a six-month MTD deferral for a number of organisations with more complex requirements to give them “sufficient time for testing the service” before they are mandated to join.
Around 3.5% of VAT-registered entities will be mandated into MTD for VAT periods beginning 1 October 2019. These complex organisations include: trusts, not-for-profit organisations that are not companies (including some charities), VAT divisions, VAT groups, those public sector entities required to provide additional information alongside their VAT return, local authorities, public corporations, traders based overseas, those required to make payments on account and annual accounting scheme users.
Any business not in one of these groups and over the VAT reporting threshold (£85,000) will be mandated to keep their VAT records digitally and file their returns using MTD-compatible software from April 2019 as previously announced.
“We are undertaking scheduled maintenance of the service over the weekend,” continued the statement. “We’ve specifically chosen a time which will cause minimum disruption … Whilst most elements of the MTD VAT service will be closed during this maintenance period existing MTD customers will be able to make submissions through the MTD service.”
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AccountingWEB’s interim Editor in Chief has been with the site since 1999 and returned to the editorial hot seat in March 2020 to support the team through the pandemic. When not tending to the needs of AccountingWEB members and geeking out on their technology habits, he devotes much of his time to an oddball collection of stringed instruments...