The long-awaited consultation documents for Making Tax Digital, HMRC’s digital tax strategy, may only be released in July thanks to the upheaval caused by the Panama Papers.
According to official sources the consultation documents are ready, but could now be trapped in bureaucratic limbo as key staff have been diverted to work on information leaked via the Panamanian documents.
This change of schedule is likely to push the MTD documents behind the veil of ‘purda’ as the fast approaching EU referendum puts government departments on lockdown, according to AccountingWEB’s tax policy editor Rebecca Cave.
Rumours from Whitehall suggested that the documents were to be issued last week, although that was never official, said Rebecca Benneyworth, tax expert and ICAEW tax faculty member.
Benneyworth has seen the documents, but was reticent about naming their exact release date. “I think you can say that we expect them very soon.”
Making Tax Digital’s enduring lack of transparency will frustrate accountants hoping to find out more. But, said Benneyworth, the tax authority’s opacity shouldn’t discourage accountants from voicing their opinions. “I would encourage all firms who represent small businesses to make their views known, and for firms to do their own responses to the consultations,” she told AccountingWEB.
“Smaller firms representing small businesses with limited digital capability are going to be the crux of delivering this ambitious project, and most will have views on what needs to be done to reduce the impact on small businesses.
“HMRC is, I know, keen to hear what the key issues are from a small business perspective. Firms might even like to encourage clients to attend a seminar in their offices, so that their representations include client comments.”
There is an official mailbox where agents can send their thoughts and suggestions. At an HMRC MTD consultation event attended by AccountingWEB, the HMRC representative assured those present that every single email sent will get read. It was stressed, however, that it’s strictly a ‘no reply’ address, so any correspondence sent to this address will not receive a response.
HMRC’s press office was contacted by AccountingWEB, but they were unable to offer any clarity on a set release date for the consultation documents.