Tax bodies call for iXBRL filing delay

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Robert Lovell
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The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and the other five main professional tax and accountancy bodies have called on the government to delay its plans for compulsory iXBRL online filing.

All six have jointly written to the Exchequer Secretary to ask the government to reconsider the timing of the plans, which are expected to come into force from 1 April.

Given HMRC’s firm commitment to this implementation date over the last few years it seems unlikely they will pander to this request, but in the context of the Bribery Act introduction, anything is possible.

It's significant that all the bodies have clubbed together to request the delay now - the day after the self assessment deadline fell - but very late in the day to do so.


There is growing concern that many businesses will not be ready for the deadline, particularly after

Sage confirmed last month

that its accounts production programmes would not be ready in time.


Anthony Thomas, CIOT deputy president, said: “With only two months until the planned mandatory implementation of iXBRL online filing, our members and other businesses are facing implementation problems. Two substantial providers of accounts preparation software have failed to deliver their iXBRL-enabled software products.


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01st Feb 2011 13:52

why the hell should they delay it

a lot of software houses have spent time and money getting ready - because some houses and practices  havent got their act together doesnt mean that there should be a delay - those who have put solutions in place DIGITA ABSOLUTE TAXCALC chould be suitably rewarded - and whats all that nonsense about costing 200-500 to manually tag accounts how do they arrive at these figures - this is the closed shop at its worst

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01st Feb 2011 14:29


Solutions in place :

Absolute - I am sure these are just rebrands of other software and is only for small entities.

Taxcalac - redo your accounts in excel if they fit into the template and not audited and the last time i looked there were some issues with the output on this.

Digita - Has anyone correctly filed some accounts using Digita? Either the accounts pro or tagging tool. I would be interested to find out.

Manual tagging - have you tagged up a full set of accounts and correctly test filed it with HMRC and COHO if so how much was it for the licence and how much time did it take add this up is it more than £200 ? I would suspect so.




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01st Feb 2011 14:54

well we know which side of the fence you are

do not denigrate Digita (Thomson Reuters) or their tagging tool that sage are also using - yes its one and the same

point taken about taxcalc tho  i also disagee re Absolute

if youre saying the big firms arent ready well thats too bad they should be they have had the resources

tagging is a fairly simple exercise from the demos i have seen , cost depends on the exorbitant charge out rate used

there are also plenty of outsourcers reasonably priced and ready too

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01st Feb 2011 15:27

Great swerve

Again has anyone actually filed anything with HMRC from Digita/TR/Sage or whichever.

Have you actually manually tagged a set of accounts (rather than watching a demo)

I am yet to see any price from an outsource company apart from one a few months ago that were charging over £1000 , this price has now been removed from their site. 

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01st Feb 2011 15:50

stop posturing and prevaricating

and try it yourself

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01st Feb 2011 15:52

Has anyone filed with HMRC ?

Yes thanks

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01st Feb 2011 18:40


About bloody[***] time.  It's a slow motion train wreck.

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02nd Feb 2011 00:00


I think the minimum of £500 or £1000 to pay someone to tag your accounts is a bit of an exaggeration. I only know of datatracks (because we supply the tagging software to them and I have a small financial interest) - as a one off their prices start at £100 for a trading company. I think the main reason tagging companies are not publishing prices is they don't want a price war, but ultimately it will be a competitive market. However it will never compete in price with churning them out ready tagged in accounts production software, but there will always be a demand for handcrafted accounts.

The HMRC have already said there will be a soft landing. If the accounts coming in aren't tagged up quite as much as they should be the HMRC could be very lenient for the first few months... and lets face it you would think accounts production software should know what it is putting in the accounts, so identifying turnover, profit etc. shouldn't be too hard. A short term relaxed tagging requirement would bring down the cost of manual tagging too.

If a vendor is running behind schedule and by April only 80% of the items will be tagged, maybe the HMRC should just say that is good enough for the first few months (after all it is 80% more than they currently get with a PDF).

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01st Feb 2011 12:20

HMRC stands firm

Our questions to HMRC about the likelihood of it agreeing to the professional bodies' request for a delay drew this response from a spokesman:

"Treasury Ministers will want to consider the representations made by the tax agent representative bodies, but the current plan to mandate the online channel with iXBRL for Company Tax Returns remains in place.

"While a single developer has said that they will not have their planned iXBRL version of accounts software before 1 April (and they have confirmed that their customers will be given an alternative solution), over 30 software developers have already delivered iXBRL enabled software and filing solutions.   HMRC have already given assurances that any difficulties with filing will be treated sympathetically and that no-one will be penalised if they have taken reasonable steps to comply."

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02nd Feb 2011 09:22

View from Digita/Thomson Reuters MD Jerry Rihll

I was curious about a few points on this story and wondered how developers like Forbes and Digita that had got their products ready would react to the professional bodies' request. David Forbes has already posted above, but this was the email reply I got to my questions from Digita founder Jerry Rihll:

Q: What do you think their chances are?
A: 50:50

Q: As a developer who has worked towards the deadline, do you think a delay will help your customers?
A: We have worked night and day to ensure that our customers have a choice of Digita iXBRL solutions well before the deadline and these were released in October 2010 and December 2010 respectively (Digita iXBRL Converter for manual tagging and Digita Accounts Production for automatic tagging). I think the delay will help customers of suppliers who have been late or unable to provide a satisfactory iXBRL solution.

Q: Would go go so far as to characterise this as last minute posturing by bodies who could have intervened earlier to more effect?
A: I certainly feel there could have been better collaboration between the suppliers, representative bodies and the HMRC to ensure the smooth introduction of iXBRL. We did this over a decade ago with the introduction of Self Assessment  in 1996/97 (remember TASSA, Tax Software Suppliers Association, which was sponsored by the CIOT) and it worked very successfully in my view.

* * *
I think the 50:50 odds are significant. Whatever the official line from HMRC, if he's entertaining doubts about the outcome of the representations, I'm a bit less certain about my original view that there was no chance of a reprieve.

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02nd Feb 2011 09:31

Well im ready.

Why is no-one else?

If you are still doing limited company accounts manually, then quite frankly its your problem.

All I have to do is download the file from my accounts production software to mydesktop.

Double click on the "attach file" into tax return software (which already has the option of importing ixbrl, and I am compliant.

The big secret is that ixbrl its essentially a software developer issue, not much an end user issue to whom its largely invisible apart from a bit more effort in the set up of new account codes.

Edited to add: thanks for the correction on the dates below I had misread the date of the accounts is applies to as March 2011 and not March 2010


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02nd Feb 2011 10:15

Are the Accountancy bodies Lobbying on behalf of SAGE?

Perhaps SAGE should pay our annual subscriptions as well!

All the other software houses have managed to roll out iXBRL on time.

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02nd Feb 2011 10:21

What's the problem?

We're using Keytime and have filed two CT600s since Monday when the VT iXBRL upgrade came through, with no major issues.

Rather than complaining to the government*, change your software supplier from the overpriced likes of Sage - that'll put a squib up their #!*! (as my gran would say).


* always a bad idea regardless of the issue ... it encourages government to do try and something about it, which will probably just make it worse.

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02nd Feb 2011 10:14

You really should know this...

Just to correct the last comment, HMRC's Corporation Tax Online page confirms that periods ending after 31 March 2010 qualify for mandatory iXBRL filing of accounts from 1 April 2011.

In their view, the number of companies with April and May year ends is quite low so this is an advantageous time to bring in mandation.

If you are dealing with accounts that are affected by the deadline and aren't equipped yet to submit an iXBRL file, you can file a  CT600 with paper or PDF accounts before 1 April.

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02nd Feb 2011 10:27


We are rolling out our updates in the next week or so. Never pays to be too complacent but after filing several hundred sets of accounts with HMRC I believe our AP software will be ok.

One thing I cannot accept is that accountants are going to be excited about tagging accounts themselves. I looked into this 2 years ago with some tagging software on trial and found it tedious and time consuming.

Seems to me the best solution would be to make it optional, but with some sort of incentive for people who do file in ixbrl (similiar to the PAYE discount scheme) for 12 months or so. I cant say I would too chuffed with that having spent 2-3 years working towards 31.3.11 but there you go. Worse things in life.


Neil Douglas ACMA MAAT

Eureka Software



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02nd Feb 2011 10:30

I agree with all comments

that cover not delaying implementation.  YOu can guess what the answer would be if the smaller suppliers asked.

If you are one of the Accountants with one of those companies who have not tagged yet you must be asking the question - what else are they behind on......

Lets keep the start date and use the soft landing approach otherwise it will just be another item on our plate as we approach the next DEc/Jan 2012 SA filing date.


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02nd Feb 2011 10:35

Already submitted in iXBRL - thank you VT

On Monday I downloaded my software update from VT final accounts, read up on what to do, generated my first iXBRL file, added one tag that was unclear and submitted to HMRC. Time recorded just one hour. External cost zero.

Next client won't be any more work than generating pdf file so perhaps an extra 5-10 minutes per set depending on complexity.

Conclusion: If VT can get their act together with such cheap software then why can't the big, expensive packages? (Alternatively it really is the big deal they make it out to be and I've got it horribly wrong?)


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By Old Greying Accountant
02nd Feb 2011 10:53

I'm with most of the above

We use IRIS, it is not cheap, but it delivers, that is why we are happy to pay.

All those squealing now are those who have chosen the cheaper options, and as they say, you gets what you pay for.

This plea is typical of the "its not fair" attitude endemic in today's society, like a bunch of toddlers having a tantrum because Mum said no.

The fact that the better software houses have made the deadline, IRIS with months to spare, means it was a workable deadline.

We chose IRIS at the time of the last major change to tax software, the introduction of self assessment, wich happened as everything was changing from DOS to Windows. We were impressed that IRIS decided to implement SA on DOS as they felt to switch everyone to Windows as well was a step too far. They were the only product we saw that had workable code, all the others had an impressive array of GUI's with absolutely no substance behind them, just a promise it would be alright on the night. As time has proven we made the right choice and are prepared to pay the premium for a provider that concentrates on getting the product right. Sure there are the odd glitches and gripes, but despite disenters on here they are in my opinion a top rate company with a customer focused approach.

So, why should we who have invested properly in our practices have bothered if the goal posts are moved for the benefit of those who were more interested in their practice as a cash cow rather than a professional entity.



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02nd Feb 2011 11:11

Who is really behind this letter?

I am (not surprisingly) with the majority view expressed above.  I really don't see what the problem is with the current implementation programme, especially given HMRC's "soft landing" approach. If you read the letter to David Gauke, all that the professional bodies are asking for is a six month delay in mandatory iXBRL accounts filing and an extension to the soft landing regime thereafter.

I would love to know exactly who is driving this last minute intervention. It is almost impossible not to point the finger at Sage (and maybe CCH) but why the institutes should feel the need to get involved like this is a bit of a mystery.

STAH (is that Steve Holloway?) is right that Absolute is essentially a re-brand of Forbes, but David Forbes will confirm that we have done a massive amount of development work together, especially on the accounts formats for our iXBRL accounts software.  Like Forbes, Absolute customers have already filed CT600s and iXBRL accounts with HMRC

Tim Good

MD Absolute Accounting Software Ltd

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02nd Feb 2011 12:03

iXBRL - You don't have to pay an arm and a leg...

You don't have to pay an arm and a leg to get a solution to iXBRL. Whilst experiencing some issues as with any software, accounting or otherwise, the support and speed of repsonse at Absolute has brought an iXBRL solution at a very reasonable price to accountants. I've been filing under iXBRL for months, tax and accounts.



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02nd Feb 2011 12:03

iXBRL & wordprocessing as in Word or WordPerfect

If there is a need to submit schedules not prepared on an accounts package or tax program will they have to be in iXBRL????

If so there is no indication that either of these two programs will be able to provide us with the necessary conversion.

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By ringi
02nd Feb 2011 12:09

Why should a software vender ever take notice of a HMRC deadline

If the dead line is extended to remove the comparative advantage that small software vender have over Sage due to the fact the small venders stopped developing their products in other ways to add iXBRL on time.   Why should a software vender ever take notice of a HMRC deadline again?

The fact that one or two of the large prehistoric dinosaurs can’t cope with iXBRL yet, is not a reason to claim there is no software that can cope with iXBRL on the market. Moving away from Sage is an option everyone should have started to plan for months ago, given Sage’s history on iXBRL.  The only time you can trust a software product to do X, is after you have seen it do X with your data, on your live system until such time you need to plan for the fact it may not be able to do X (regardless of what the PowerPoint slides say).

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As an Absolute user for both personal tax returns, partnership returns and limited company returns for the last 9 months I can safely say that we have filed abbreviated accounts and corporation tax returns successfully for many clients so far with their iXBRL software.  We have also successfully set up new companies with the companies house software and filed lots of personal tax returns recently.  The help desk is just that - a real help desk with friendly knowledgable people at the other end of a phone - or even email on Monday evening!

Yes there is the odd glitch in the software but there is usually a quick workaround and the issue is taken back to the software writers for future updates.

We have been very happy we moved from doing our own accounts and tax returns to using the integrated software in the spring last year and would recommend them to any small accountancy practice such as us.


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02nd Feb 2011 13:43

Self tagging

Eureka's comments about self tagging being time consuming and tedious may apply to other products but not to VT. VT have made it really easy to self tag DIY small company accounts in Excel (see screenshot of self tagging dialog). VT's own workbooks are of course pre-tagged.

Philip Hodgson
VT Software

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02nd Feb 2011 14:06

@ wood and co

Accounts and CT comp must be in ixbrl

other schedules can be in pdf

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By nigel
02nd Feb 2011 14:13

Stick to the deadline

We're Sage SAPA users, but nonetheless I think HMRC should stick to the 1 April date. To backtrack now would be a real kick in the teeth to those software developers who managed to get their iXBRL solutions out on time. This whole thing of leaving everything to the last minute makes me sick, maybe the late developers will learn for next time (if they get a second chance!).

Sage are confident that we'll have a tagging tool (thanks, Digita!) by the end of March, I can live with that in the interim. After all, this only represents about the last 1% of any corporate engagement - we can still prepare the accounts and CT return with what we've already got.

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By daveah
02nd Feb 2011 14:25

Agree with the accountant using IRIS

I run a very small practice, but pay the premium to use IRIS and have had no problems with iXBRL.

The only suprise was when talking to someone from IRIS on another matter was that in his experience their customers had not tried out iXBRL filing although it had been available for some time.

You get what you pay for I guess.


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By Old Greying Accountant
02nd Feb 2011 15:42

John/AW admin - Can you not post up a poll...

... 2 questions

1. Stick to scheduled deadline Yes or No

2. What software do you use, Sage or Other


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02nd Feb 2011 16:59


I have used VT since it came out. I respectfully suggest all those that are having problems with iXBRL go on VT's webb site and have a good look.

Manual tagging is simple and the december version of the workbooks (accounts production) have automatic tagging.

Using IRIS (formerly Drummohr) tax software its an absolute doddle and not expensive for unlimited clients.

Yes, of course I'm trying to get next years subs for free

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By nowellg
02nd Feb 2011 17:06

HMRC own software

Having used the HMRC own software to input Corporation tax return and addreviated accounts for a 30 September 2010 year end I found that the Capital Allowances page does not work. I was told by HMRC it was a known fault and that I would have to mispost in order to get the correct claim in for AIA. If they cannot get their own software right they cannot expect others to be ready.



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02nd Feb 2011 17:23

absolute rubbish

i would agree on the SA front - there the onlone software works well - companies however are a different matter - having used many different corporate software solutions all of which work i cannot see any excuse for not using the same and instead relying on HMRC software

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02nd Feb 2011 17:40

Thanks for the poll suggestion, OGA

We'll get right on to it - but might tweak the questions a little to reflect a wider range of options. I'll report back when it's done.

UPDATE: Poll now live - cast your vote here

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By chatman
02nd Feb 2011 18:06

"If VT can get their act together with such cheap software then

Because they are not saddled with the costs of the enormous marketing departments that the expensive packages are. Mind you, Digita still managed it.

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By chatman
02nd Feb 2011 18:13

"All those squealing now are those who have chosen the cheaper o

VTT+ and VT Final Accounts cost me £199 and the only squealing I am doing is with laughter at the idea of paying for IRIS.

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By chatman
02nd Feb 2011 18:23

I would be surprised if the ICAEW were lobbying on behalf of Sag

...when Sage is CCH's opposition, and the ICAEW appears to be a subsidiary of CCH  these days.

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02nd Feb 2011 18:30

excel does have its advantages in accounts prpearation after all

its presumably easier because everything is in their own cell - presumably the software pros will tell me wher i am going wrong 

and one other thing - the more signatories there are to a letter the more covinced i become that the signatories are wrong

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By natsd
02nd Feb 2011 20:11

What's with the Digita fan club on AccountingWeb?

I am always amazed that whenever there are stories about tax software (CT or PT) there are always lots of comments on the wonder that is Digita. I am curious as to whether these are from genuine users of the product or if they are from employees of Thompson Reuters.

I must admit that, having attended several iXBRL events and looked at a lot of the products on offer I am not convinced that the Digita iXBRL solution can cope with "complex" CT returns (i.e. for multinationals and groups) and this is probably the sort of thing that SAGE and CCH's products will cope with better?

I have used Digita Personal Tax in both my previous and current firms and if the CT software is as bad as the PT software then I would be very worried indeed!

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By chatman
02nd Feb 2011 21:47

I'm not a fan of Digita

I just wanted to give them credit for meeting the iXBRL deadline despite having a bloated marketing department.

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By chatman
02nd Feb 2011 21:48

What's the problem with TaxCalc...

...that people have referred to above?

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03rd Feb 2011 00:33


its the difference between the CT program which id greta and the accounts production which is awaited with interest


re Digita i have used it for acssince it came out and have always found it reliable it gets support becuase people like it same with other software some dont - there is no organised digita spin group

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By TommyJ
03rd Feb 2011 06:46

"...and the image of the Lord had been replaced by a mirror.”

I would say that this thread has pretty much denegrated into a d***-measuring contest - i.e. with some exceptions those customers that are using ixbrl-compliant software are saying tough to those that haven't - surely the people who lose out here would be the customers of Sage (have they an alternative?) or CCH?

I didn't realise there was as much brand loyalty out there amongst accountants that they are taking the line that some on this thread are taking - are you as defensive about your cars or which audit programmes you use? Bottom line is that it is the customer (us lot) who will lose out. In the last number of years I have spent numerous hours on the phone with several software houses/HMRC/Companies House trying to figure out ELS/FBI/Electronic Filing and other software houses and I would prefer not to have to do that. So would all the other accountants around be laughing and saying "Ha ha - you chose Sage/CCH whereas I chose Digita. Aren't I just great!". Surely we are in this together and if 6 of the main bodies come out and have asked for the delay I'd be happy enough to leave it another 6 months if it means less of those lengthy tech support calls to whatever organisation.

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03rd Feb 2011 07:33


Whilst your post is very fair what concerns me is this idea that deadlines dont mean anything.  No customer looses out because the accountant has to make sure he complies.  Over 80% of Companies are represented by Agents.

What is clear from these posts are a lot of satisfaction and a lot of posters wanting real facts about problems past and present. You would not buy a car if you knew that it performed badly or that a new gismo did not woork.Software is no different.

HMRC set a reasonable deadline and those companies who not invested in making sure that their clients(accountants) will have the tools by the set date are trying to extend it.  But what I said earlier applies, if the deadline is extended 6months this is October1st and personal self-assessment made season is on us.

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By TommyJ
03rd Feb 2011 08:55

Don't get me wrong!

When I was referring to customers I was referring to us poor souls. And yes I do think we do lose out thanks to whoever our software provider is. What I am getting from the posts is gloating from the non-Sage/CCH users. HMRC did set a reasonable deadline and it should have been adhered to by the two software houses already referred to - but who loses out? Sage & CCH will lose some credibility on the issue but I'm sure the marketing/wallpapering machine will kick into action and they will try and gain some ground again. The biggest losers are the agents who through no fault of their own (apart from buying software at a time when iXBRL wasn't even on the radar) will suffer.


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By Old Greying Accountant
03rd Feb 2011 08:59

Just to say

Why congratulate a software company for meeting the deadline? I don't expect my clients to congratulate me for filing their tax returns on time, it is what they pay me for. Looks like all this non-competition in schools is spreading to the workplace.

If you are happy with your sofware I am glad. A Ferrari or a Fiat still do the same journey. I am perfectly happy that my software choice is the right one for my practice and am pleased for those who feel the same about their software. My only real gripe is with SAGE who have an aggressive under-cutting marketing machine who's product consistently, in my personal opinion, fails to perform.

I think I am right in saying though that IRIS is still the only fully integrated accounting suite on the market: It does everything we need from a single data base, and I am happy to pay a premium price for it


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03rd Feb 2011 10:06

Wild rumours and assertions - decision today?

Thanks for adding your views to this thread - there are a lot of rumours swirling about just at the moment, one of which suggests that Treasury ministers might be making up their minds about this today. I'm on the case.

I'd just like to add to back chatman's response to BigBadWolf that the accountancy bodies are doing Sage's bidding on this. While the company does have a lot of influence within the profession and in Whitehall, I don't think its reach extends to all the different bodies.

Sage has declined to comment on this story, but lots of other people are willing to fill the vacuum. I'll get that poll posted and report back on developments shortly.

I would also like to know if there is any interest in joining an iXBRL/XBRL discussion group on AccountingWEB. If you are, could you perhaps post a short response on the Any Answers thread I started?

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03rd Feb 2011 10:56

Scratching my head

Like many others I find it astonishing that the professional bodies should demonstrate such spinelessness when the industry has had YEARS to respond. It stinks. See my take. To be frank, AccountingWeb cloud do its readers a good service by taking a strong position on this. I'm surprised it is sitting on the fence. 

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03rd Feb 2011 11:30

Why so slow?

ICAS red flagged this issue in June 2009.

However, I am surprised that it has taken the institutes so long to get their act together to write a joint letter about the problem only now (given that implementation is now only 2 months away).

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By Old Greying Accountant
03rd Feb 2011 12:19

I'm sorry, but what problem?

Most software houses seem to be able to comply already judging from the responses above?

I am not one of the biggest fans of HMRC, but in this instance this is a bad reflection on the software house who have not resourced this adequately, not HMRC.

Also, not sure if been commented on yet,  but my thoughts were that AW is a forum, and whilst the admin can point out factual errors and raise pertinent points or questions, I do not expect them "to come down off the fence". In fact, keeping the metaphor, they are the fence!


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By metcalr
03rd Feb 2011 17:11

We're all ready HMRC!

It's tricky to seem impartial here, but in fairness, ALL of the vendors on the HMRC Recognised list would agree that they broke sweat into the small hours last year to get on their list as early as possible (May 2010 in our case if you insist ;-).  In order to meet the deadline and the requirements of our customers, we threw additional resource at the problem through Christmas 2009 (!), in order to be proof of concepting something in January 2010, whilst others were relaxing having eaten their their Turkey with sage stuffing.

This led to many successful implementations from July 2010 onwards.  There's plenty of solutions on the market now, I just think that a lot of let-down companies should take this opportunity to show their lacklustre vendors that they can vote with their feet.

Richard Metcalfe

MD, Arkk Solutions


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By chatman
03rd Feb 2011 18:09

"are you as defensive about your cars or which audit programmes

 A very good question. It reminds me of the letter in Viz which said "iPhone users: you just bought one; you didn't invent it!"

If my software is good, it can make such a difference to the quality of my life that I feel an undying gratitude to the supplier and a need to defend them. On the other hand, if some software makes my life difficult, I feel a need to let the world know.

Perhaps some psychotherapy would help me.

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