While accountants and tax agents haven’t been shy in sharing their opinions on HMRC’s Making Tax Digital plans, survey results from Thomson Reuters' recent webinar reveals that many are not as forthcoming when it comes to formally responding to the consultation documents.
Over half of those surveyed admitted that they have no plans to respond. Despite many sitting vehemently on either side of the argument, the survey results show an apathetic stance from those grassroots practitioners surveyed.
This apparent indifference towards the consultations was compounded by 75% confessing to not have read the documents. Although 50% intend to read the documents, time is running out if they plan on responding, as the consultation closes 7 November.
More curiously, even though 227 surveyed have no plans to respond to the consultations, 307 out of 424 surveyed (72%) believe HMRC hasn't adequately included agents in the consultation process. This figure dwarfs the 4% who believe agents have been appropriately involved.
In the other survey results, the majority were still unsure on whether the client authorisation process featured in the con docs is an improvement over the current 64-8, with 44% believing most clients will struggle, but their more tech savvy clients will be fine.
And 80% believed the gross turnover/gross rents threshold for deferral should align with the VAT limit.
Over 400 accountants and tax agents took part in Thomson Reuters’ survey, which took place throughout their Making Tax Digital webinar.
AccountingWEB’s consulting tax editor Rebecca Cave stressed the importance of individual firms responding to the consultation documents, rather than relying on their professional body. “The government puts the same weight on a response from a two-partner firm as it does from, say, KPMG, or the CiOT,” she said. “The more responses you can get, the more HMRC and the government will pay attention to the majority view given by those responses.”
The result, meanwhile, doesn’t surprise Cave. After all, she explains, firms are busy serving their clients and doing their job, not reading consultation documents. “[Smaller practices] usually leave that up to their professional bodies, which have technical people employed to deal with responding on behalf of members.”
But if there’s just one question firms should respond to, Cave encourages them to consider question 42 from Bringing businesses into the digital age consultation, which questions the on-going costs as a result of the MTD changes.
“HMRC and the government will not listen if people are not talking", Cave emphasised. “If people are not responding to the consultation documents, there is nothing for HMRC to listen to.”
For those who want to respond but don't know how, Rebecca Benneyworth has released a consultation document resource pack which includes an aid to responding to the consultation documents.
Mark Purdue consolidates hundreds of pages of information into 90 minutes to explain the key points and what the consultations really mean for accountants and their clients. Register and listen to an on-demand version of the webinar.
Have you responded to the Making Tax Digital consultation documents yet? Are you going to? More to the point, have you even read them?
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.