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HMRC takes the handbrake off MTD ITSA pilot

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From July 2022, the criteria for joining the Making Tax Digital for income tax self assessment scheme will be expanded, allowing more taxpayers to potentially participate. However, questions remain over the removal of remaining restrictions and the availability of software.

15th Jun 2022
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In an update shared with tax agents this morning, HMRC has announced that from July 2022 taxpayers with the following income types will be able to join the Making Tax Digital for income tax self assessment (MTD ITSA) pilot scheme: 

  • self-employment (including multiple self-employments) 
  • UK property 
  • Gift Aid 
  • Pay As You Earn income, including employment income and occupational pensions (excluding those with a coded out liability) 
  • UK interest  
  • UK dividends.  

Clients will need to have an accounting period that aligns to the tax year (6 April to 5 April) to join the 2022–23 pilot and have MTD-compatible software before signing up. More information on the eligibility criteria can be found on HMRC’s guidance pages.

HMRC stated it will be testing the first quarterly submission for taxpayers already in the scheme from 6 July, after which it aims to open up the pilot more widely to those with income types listed above.

According to today’s communication to agents, HMRC would like to encourage more agents to start signing up a small number of their clients. “If you are interested in joining, we suggest you review your client list now and see who is likely to be eligible based on the criteria,” stated the update. 

It added that those taking part in the pilot scheme “will have the benefit of testing MTD ITSA before 2024, including their own processes for managing MTD”.

Those interested in joining the pilot can contact their software developer or email HMRC on [email protected] for information on how to sign up. A full list of government-approved software providers can be found here.

MTD ITSA is due to go fully live on 6 April 2024 for all businesses with annual income from self-employment or property above £10,000, after the government postponed mandation of the scheme by a year in September 2021. General partnerships are currently due to be mandated into MTD ITSA from 6 April 2025.

Questions remain over rollout and roadmap

HMRC has previously stated a desire to limit income tax pilot numbers to provide “additional support to the first customers in the service before testing at scale”. However, the Revenue came in for criticism earlier this year when the figure for pilot participants dropped to nine, with tax professionals and technical specialists expressing concern that the current timeline will not allow for a large-scale “full cycle” run of the scheme before mandation.

Meanwhile, more general practitioners have queried the volume of participants taking part in the pilot. In a recent MTD ITSA webinar hosted by AccountingWEB, a poll of almost 100 accountants were asked how many people they thought needed to go through the pilot in order for it to be a success. Almost half (48%) said that more than 400,000 taxpayers, or more than 10% of those potentially affected by MTD ITSA, should have taken part before the scheme is mandated. A further 39% said they would not be participating until they were sure the pilot scheme was fully functional.

As is often the case with MTD ITSA updates, the communication raises several follow-up questions that AccountingWEB will seek to answer in discussion with HMRC. 

When will a roadmap covering which restrictions will be taken off and when be published? For accountants, the majority of self assessment clients are likely to have 31 March year ends so will be unable to join at the present time. So when will they be able to join? 

There still appears to be only three providers of software approved and available now on its list of providers, with a further 18 listed as in development. Will more vendors be coming online soon, or if taxpayers wish to participate in the pilot at this stage, will they have to move data to one of the approved providers? 

If you would like to add to this list, please do so via the comments section below, by private message on the site or by emailing [email protected].

Join AccountingWEB editor at large John Stokdyk and industry experts at 11am on Thursday 16 June for a webinar on how accountants are facing up to MTD ITSA and the unanswered questions. Click here to register or for more information.

Replies (48)

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By bendybod
15th Jun 2022 09:53

Who in their right mind is going to sign up until their software provider has an approved solution? 99% of our clients who use software use software on the list seeking approval.

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Replying to bendybod:
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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2022 10:35

If only ...

Your clients aren't using "software on the list seeking approval" ... they're using software from a supplier who says their MTD solution is "in development" (i.e. not yet finished let alone available).
Not surprising given that HMRC keep changing the architecture & components for the developers - and have yet to publish a clear route-map for a live service!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
VitalTax
By VitalTax
15th Jun 2022 12:03

HMRC software website is very confusing. All solutions listed as software in development are fully functional and were tested and demoed to HMRC and received production credentials and permission to submit data to HMRC internal system. Most of those products are absolutely ready and could be used to submit MTD Income Tax returns now.

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Replying to bendybod:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
15th Jun 2022 14:18

Handbrake off tatty old coach with go faster stripes painted on crudely.
No-one who knows how to work the controls at the wheel.
Pointing down a slope to a busy road.

Us lot laughing from the pavement.

HMRC - run out and stand in-front of this thing so I can prove its brilliant
Us lot - nope.
HMRC (and software industry) you idiots, cant you see this is brilliant
Us lot - nope
HMRC - we will fine you if you don't help
Us lot - still better than getting squashed
HMRC - we will make the fines bigger if you don't help
Us lot - meh, we will just pretend to look like we are helping, you will have no idea at all who is or is not
HMRC - but but but but but its good for you
Us lot - laughing hysterically as HMRC flattened.

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By Self-Employed and Happy
15th Jun 2022 09:53

I suppose the answer for accountants with lots of Ltd Co's on their books could be to just refuse Sole Trade / Partnership self assessment.

It is completely unnecessary and the only outcome is the tax payer pays us more for services that they don't need and that we really aren't interested in providing.

I suppose the Government haven't even bothered thinking about

A) HMRC already can't cope with their workload, so lets add loads more to it with Tax payers trying to do it themselves and clogging up helplines, they also don't have the technological infrastructure to deal with this.

B) Accountants; going to need a huge recruitment drive in the sector for the lower inputting of data type employees, I'm not really sure how with so many accountants leaving the profession early (due to this extra compliance) how the government plus ICAEW, ACCA, CTA think the sector is geared to cope with this. It's a prime example of "we want this absolutely useless tool for political reasons" so everyone else must bend.

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Replying to Self-Employed and Happy:
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By Alanpryan
15th Jun 2022 10:04

Exactly what I told our Quickbooks account manager when he called yesterday. Semi-retirement, and just look after the Limited Co's and the associated service work. All the sole traders can go off to the big boys who may have the infrastructure to cope with the extra work

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By mwangishah
15th Jun 2022 09:54

Increased cost of living - either to pay the accountants to do the work- twice- quarterly and annually. Increased costs for people who get an annual consolidated tax certificate... Millions wasted on a system which creates more complexity for the layman. And on top of it fines. More training for Accounting staff. Who are the winners- Software developers. and to communicate with HMRC becoming ever so harder...I predict this will be scrapped in a years time.

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Replying to mwangishah:
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By philaccountant
16th Jun 2022 09:45

Agree with everything except the last point. HMRC are bloody minded and will continue to plough on into a brick wall.

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Replying to philaccountant:
Tornado
By Tornado
16th Jun 2022 16:27

"HMRC are bloody minded and will continue to plough on into a brick wall."

Undoubtedly correct ..... but not something that I particularly care about now.

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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2022 09:59

I can hear the tapping of nails into coffin-lids grow louder ... do they never learn?

1. A short list of 'qualifying' income types that fails to explain what several actually mean (e.g. "PAYE income (excluding those with a coded out liability)" presumably excludes anyone with a payrolled BiK - but who knows)?

2. The list omits the most important item ... "and no other income sources".

3. And they still haven't resolved the 'issue' (process) for anyone with a non-5th April Y/E?

4. Worst of all is not the mere paucity of MTD software available, but the lack of certainty even of those software developers (and I suspect HMRC themselves) regarding the whole MTD cycle - in terms of filings / adjustments / confirmations / and so on!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2022 10:16

And to add insult to injury ... HMRC obviously still think that Agents have oodles of spare time to waste on non-productive things - with comments like:
* "we suggest you review your client list now and see who is likely to be eligible based on the criteria".
So the suggestion is to use time to 'segment' your clients yet again ... via an uncertain set of criteria that will no doubt keep changing (if only due to clarifications, he says optimistically)?

What happens if a client who 'qualifies' then picks up a further income stream (of a non-qualifying type)?
Conversely what happens if their combined income stream drops (deliberately or otherwise) below the mandated threshold?

Does joining this Pilot (as did the RTI one) commit the taxpayer irrevocably to staying on that path ... or can they drop out if things become too uncertain/arduous?

What 'advantage' is perceived for agents who then have a split of clients (even if same services and same software) with some on pilot MTD and most not?
Especially as the associated processing rules keep changing due to the wonders of agile development (the agent's administrative costs will be horrendous)?

Where is the central hub (sourced and run by HMRC) where pilot employers and agents can publicly share questions, issues and (who knows) solutions?

In short, it's highly debatable whether "those taking part in the pilot scheme will have the benefit of testing MTD ITSA before 2024, including their own processes for managing MTD” ... but there's nothing in it for the agent either way!

Thanks (11)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By petestar1969
15th Jun 2022 11:06

No.1 probably refers to underpayments from earlier years in the PAYE code. Its the most obvious answer so HMRC probably didn't feel the need to spell it out...

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By MCV71
15th Jun 2022 10:01

Could the number on the pilot get into double figures?!

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By DMBAcc
15th Jun 2022 10:03

All I can say is good luck to anyone trying to use MTD ITSA on 06Apr24 with the multitude of software products - one for each type of income. They won't be joined up and you won't be able to find anything from HMRC which will add up all your net income and provide a comprehensive (and comprehendible) tax summary for the year. Yes you will get a tax demand but you will be left scratching your head as to how HMRC came up with the figure . It will be just like the new Capital Gain system, not connected to the SA tax system so that any overpayment of tax will have to be claimed separately. And they call it progress. God help you if HMRC owe you money after 06Apr24. For me it will be palm trees in the sun and bye bye HMRC for good.

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By Nebs
15th Jun 2022 10:20

Hello client. Would you like to join the MTD pilot scheme. It will cost you more in accountancy fees, plus the cost of software will have to be added too. The benefits to you are an incorrect tax estimate 4 times a year due to your seasonal business and capital allowances. Well, yes or no?

Time to save money by closing the office of tax simplification.

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Replying to Nebs:
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By MCV71
15th Jun 2022 10:39

I can't think of a single thing that Office has achieved.

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Replying to MCV71:
Ivor Windybottom
By Ivor Windybottom
15th Jun 2022 11:00

How dare you... they were involved in stopping tax-free Luncheon Vouchers!

A massive simplification benefit for everyone... not.

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Replying to Ivor Windybottom:
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By MCV71
15th Jun 2022 11:56

I stand corrected :-)

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Replying to Ivor Windybottom:
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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2022 12:35

To be fair it was only like euthanasia - given that 15p per day didn't allow you even to purchase a snack-bar.

They (LVs) should be in some sort of dictionary of economic terms ... as the best example of drag in taxation (the 15p , or rather 3/-, level was set in 1948 but NEVER increased prior to its abolition in 2013 ... so 65 years of no inflationary pressure)!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By Geoff56
15th Jun 2022 14:35

I would imagine that three bob could buy a very decent lunch in 1948.

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Replying to Geoff56:
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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2022 14:50

Covered a full 3-course lunch (and taking your secretary to lunch for free) ... https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/405605510161111459/

Sorry about the sexism but it was 1948!

It was still enough in the mid-60s for a working (i.e. take away) lunch.

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By seventax
15th Jun 2022 10:31

You say 'In an update shared with tax agents this morning' - is there a link to this for those who have not received it?

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Replying to seventax:
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By GHarr497688
15th Jun 2022 12:25

Neither have I

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Head of woman
By Rebecca Cave
15th Jun 2022 11:09

I see the list of those that cannnot join the pilot has also been expanded such that all of the following are excluded:
Partner in a partnership
Bankrupt or insolvent
Minister of religion,
Lloyds underwriter
Foster carer
Have a third party capacitor, this including (but is not limited to):
trusted helpers
insolvency practitioners
nominees
solicitors
And presumably anyone who acts as a tax agent.
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-making-tax-digital-for-income-tax#who-...
to

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Replying to Rebecca Cave:
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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2022 11:19

I see what you mean ... given that your extract isn't quite identical to the source - in that your list contains "insolvency practitioners", but the source has those as distinct items in the list (i.e. "insolvency" and separately "practitioners").

So no-one represented by an agent then?
Maybe I wasn't being paranoid when I suggested HMRC are cutting agents out of the MTD loop?

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By North East Accountant
15th Jun 2022 11:17

Well HMRC may have taken the handbrake off but their destination is a bit wholly.

And cos they don't know where they are going HMRC don't have a clue how they are going to get there (or if they do they're not saying).

So who sets off on a journey without knowing where they are going, what route they are taking, and precisely what they need to arrive at their destination with.

And the software cars to take us are not built yet so we can't get there anyway.

So how on earth can anyone join the pilot...oh they haven't and are unlikely to until HMRC spell out the precise destination and what we need to take.

Thanks (9)
Replying to North East Accountant:
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By Hugo Fair
15th Jun 2022 11:24

Quite ... the current state of MTD reminds me of the old comedian's sketch where a car-driver stops a local in the deepest countryside and asks "how do I get to X"?

After much rumination and eye-rolling, the reply comes ... "Werl, I wouldn't start from here!"

Thanks (11)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
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By North East Accountant
15th Jun 2022 16:46

An old classic....still so true.

And yet if HMRC had asked and listened (properly) at the outset to someone who actually knew what they were doing (say 100 accountants with min 10 years front line experience) ) HMRC would have got 1,000's of years of tax system experience to help build an amazing digital tax system.

As it is we have the shambles of CGT reporting and goodness knows what mess MTD ITSA will be.

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Tornado
By Tornado
15th Jun 2022 11:23

HMRC are still in denial about the impossibility of their MTD for ITSA plans.

Why on earth would I and my clients be interested in joining the pilot when there is is clearly no benefit for any of us in doing so.

Change the plans altogether to something that is actually achievable, and then I may be interested.

No matter what HMRC try to do, the fact is that it is their responsibility to make MTD work, NOT ours.

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By JustAnotherUser
15th Jun 2022 11:50

"HMRC would like to encourage more agents"
and
"A full list of government-approved software providers can be found here."
Equals
- Cirrostratus Exedra Ltd and untied for Agents.

Cirrostratus takes you to vat direct, and I’m sorry but it looks like the website hasn’t been updated since 1983
So I shall re-phrase
"HMRC would like to encourage more agents to sign up to untied and do our testing for us"

Thanks (3)
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By MCV71
15th Jun 2022 12:01

They may have taken off the handbrake, but the gearstick is still very firmly in Park.

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By tedbuck
15th Jun 2022 12:22

I really think that things have got to the point where the lunatics are in charge of the madhouse.

My feeling is that from now on every time I get a crass stupidity from HMRC (like removing SEISS receipts from a submitted tax return) or have to issue a reminder to HMRC re a letter over 6 weeks old I will copy it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He seems an intelligent man unlike most of those around him so it may be that the penny will drop and he will realise that all is not well. Now if we all did the same think about his post pile and just imagine how HMRC would react to the pressure that would be applied to them. Perhaps they might even take their digits out and use their brains. They might even think about what chaos MTDfITSA will undoubtedly cause. (Probably not as they are purblind but you never know.)

Worth a try?

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Morph
By kevinringer
15th Jun 2022 13:46

Why would anyone volunteer for the pilot? What's in it for them?

In 2017 Theresa Middleton announced the launch of the pilot with the aim of having 400,000 volunteers sign up. 5 years later with only 9 participants in the pilot, HMRC has only met 0.00225% of it's 2017 target. That's a dismal fail, even by HMRC standards. If I'd joined the pilot back in 2017 I'd feel a mug.

Back in 2017, the incentive to join the pilot was that participants would not have to file a 2018 Tax Return. What's easier: (1) 1x 2018 Tax Return or (2) digitise records and 4x quarterly returns and 1 [or is it more] final returns? I'd elect for option 1. No wonder so few volunteered.

No, if HMRC wants participants to test HMRC systems and test third party software, those participants must be compensated for giving up their time just help the software industry develop software that it can then sell to us all. In other words, if HMRC and the software industry want to hire people to test their software, HMRC and the software industry need to pay them.

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By Marlinman
15th Jun 2022 15:07

I'm predicting that it will all fall flat on its [***] and they scrap the idea. They've even messing us about for years and the start date has been repeatedly delayed. I'm not going to waste any time on MTD for SA until I know for certain that it's going ahead and Taxfiler come up with software to handle it.

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Replying to Marlinman:
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By MCV71
15th Jun 2022 17:29

Well I wouldn't hold out on Taxfiler having a suitable module https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tech/accounting-software/iris-rolls-sent...

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By garkbeda43
15th Jun 2022 15:51

I really think that things have got to the point where the lunatics are in charge of the madhouse.

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By steve 12321
15th Jun 2022 15:52

The best course of action is to say sorry we made a mistake and stop it now!

Thanks (2)
Morph
By kevinringer
15th Jun 2022 16:46

We can all see how ridiculous MTD ITSA is: the massive burden it will place on businesses and accountants, and HMRC. And what will it achieve? How will HMRC gain from it? They won't: it won't alter the tax payment dates or speed up payment. If MTD VAT is anything to go by, MTD ITSA will increase the tax gap. The problem is, HMRC has invested so much political capital in MTD ITSA, I don't think they can quietly stop it even if they wanted to. No, it is enshrined in legislation and to change that HMRC will have to tell parliament they've made a mistake. No one in HMRC is man enough to admit that they got it wrong. They don't want to risk their future knighthoods. So I fear the MTD steam roller will just continue on its uncontrollable journey destroying everything in its path.

But hold on, HMRC could stop it and not lose face. After all, it was George Osborne's baby and he's long since jumped ship. So maybe, we accountants need to give HMRC a get-out-of-jail-free card because if HMRC could stop this and save face and not risk any knighthoods, maybe they would stop MTD? That's a job for our PBs to sound out the HMRC powers-that-be.

Thanks (3)
Morph
By kevinringer
15th Jun 2022 16:58

The only winners with MTD has been the software industry. Take Sage as an example. Pre-MTD their Sage Essentials would retail for about £100 for a perpetual licence. That software would last for 5-10 years = a cost of £1 a month. Sage Essentials already contained the module to transmit the VAT return from the software too HMRC. To make their software MTD compliant, all Sage needed to do was replace the existing VAT transmission module with the VAT API. Job done. In return, Sage were able to force users onto a subscription of £30 a month. Sage is quids-in for a tiny change in the software. Now that MTD VAT is here, all those Sage users are compelled to pay their £30 a month forever, unless they change supplier. But what about MTD ITSA? Now that's a different ball game. Altering Sage 50cloud (as Sage Essentials is now called) for income tax is huge. That's going to take a lot of Sage resources. And how much more will Sage be able to charge its customers? I doubt they'd be able to get away with much more than currently. Sage's extra income will be from businesses that don't need to comply with MTD VAT, namely landlords and small unincorporated trades. Are they going to pay £30 a month? No. So Sage is unlikely to get much of a return at all on the work needed to make their software MTD ITSA compliant. If I was Sage, I think I'd be having a quiet word with HMRC suggesting it stops with MTD VAT.

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Replying to kevinringer:
Tornado
By Tornado
15th Jun 2022 17:16

Sage (and other software developers) may have to increase their charges significantly more as they start dealing with hundreds of thousands (millions) of people trying to understand how to use their software. The Helplines will have to have huge numbers of staff to deal with all the basic queries which non-computer and non-accounting folk ask (we all know what those questions are).

I forgot to mention that I will not have the time to deal with all of this nonsense for anyone other than my existing clients, so Hurrah for the Software Developers who will be talking on this task.

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Replying to Tornado:
Morph
By kevinringer
16th Jun 2022 09:21

Sage have thought of this: they charge extra for their support. I notice on their website they now charge £72+VAT a month if you want phone support. That was the cost of buying a perpetual licence until 2018.

Tornado, noted you won't have time to deal with this for anyone other than your existing clients. I'm struggling to see how I can support even my existing clients. An example: a digitally-challenged client asked me to help them build a spreadsheet that they can export their existing sales/purchase transactions into and merge with their overheads account. I found myself having to teach them really basic computer skills such as how to copy and paste. I have not got time even to teach my existing clients how to use a computer. It's the equivalent of HMRC sending my client a paper form and my client expecting me to teach them to read and write so they can fill in the form. I'm now telling clients that I'm not teaching them how to use a computer, using the analogy of the paper form.

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By Mr J Andrews
15th Jun 2022 17:19

I'm still awaiting a ''test pilot'' response from HMRC to an Application for Exemption, almost six months ago. A formal complaint now lodged owing to the delay but more importantly , the aged, computer illiterate , landlord client is now further distressed at what he has been advised of the additional burdensome imposition of MTD
Rather than kow tow to the Revenue's ridiculous announcement as to what they want agents to do with their clients - on their behalf - I suggest agents do what they consider best for their clients and pursue a similar avenue for claiming exemption.
Or shall we all just carry on pretending that MTD for all over £10K will go ahead ?

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Morph
By kevinringer
16th Jun 2022 09:26

We know there is a huge gulf between the skills that clients need to digitise their records (accurately and completely) and the skills clients actually have. Does anyone know whether at any point HMRC actually assessed the digital-competency of taxpayers to ascertain whether they had the skills needed? Or has this been limited to just the pilot?

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Replying to kevinringer:
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By tedbuck
16th Jun 2022 10:33

Well there's a thought - HMRC wondering if the Plebs are competent - no way could they have asked the people who will have to do it. They just assume everyone has a mobile phone and if they do they must be computer literate.
Simple answer - they don't and they aren't but HMRC wouldn't accept that as it doesn't suit their ideas.
I expect they are all ex university graduates with no experience of real life and dealing with real people other than Mum and Dad for whom they do all the things like setting up their mobiles because they know Mum and Dad are DOFs but expect everybody else not to be.
A graduate of whom I am aware at third party distance got a job with HMRC - online or phone interview ,I think, - "You'll be working from home" says HMRC - "No computer" says the graduate - "We'll get you one" says HMRC - "You're hired." I don't, to be fair, know what the job was but can you imagine anyone hiring a newly released person without some sort of in house training? Well now you can understand why not much sense comes out of HMRC and why they won't have looked at the possibility of the Plebs not being able to deal with MTD. Sounds a bit like Vladimir doesn't it?
By the way I put myself firmly in the category of 'The Plebs' so I speak from personal knowledge and I am also a DOF so that is the good bit as I shall have retired before this rubbish hits the fan - good luck to those of you who don't join the retirees!

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Replying to tedbuck:
Morph
By kevinringer
16th Jun 2022 10:41

I know HMRC's stance is "if you've got a digital device, you've got all that is needed to be your own accountant" as if someone who can post on Facebook has the skills to account for their on ITSA. I've got a client with an iPad but he's so digitally-challenged he can only receive emails, you can't create and send one. Yet HMRC reckon he's got what it takes to handle MTD.

Ironically, HMRC won't let their own staff do the most basic stuff and they have to issue referrals for just about everything. And yet their own staff only do tax whereas the self-employed have to run their own business.

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By untied
16th Jun 2022 14:46

untied has been live with Making Tax Digital for Income Tax for 18 months. One of the key bottlenecks has been that HMRC has not been able to support the users we wanted and needed to test. We hope that the opening up of eligibility will allow this to happen.

The wider participation will hopefully help agents bring clients into MTD for Income Tax and get hands-on experience for themselves. But getting going now is vital - with under two years to go, it's important that accountants and other advisers understand what MTD ITSA will mean for their practice.

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By Ian McTernan CTA
16th Jun 2022 14:49

Unless HMRC are offering to pay me for joining and pay me to cover my costs for each client I enter into this pilot, it's a firm 'no thanks' from me.

Not a single client I have brought this up with has seen ANY benefit to them of this proposed system.
They will now have to pay for software they don't want, can't use, don't have time to learn and then screw it up so I can then spend hours unpicking all the errors to submit some quarterly figure which will need massively revising at the year end.
Not only that, client with multiple income sources will need to submit quarterly for each source!

Most client responses I can't even type on here as they would be censored, but they are mainly akin to 'go far away HMRC'.

There is zero need for this system other than realising some raving lunatic's wet dream, but it looks like HMRC will plough on no matter what.

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By MCV71
16th Jun 2022 19:04

The handbrake is off, but the car is still on the road to nowhere (thanks Talking Heads for that one)

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