Intuit announces MTD bridging software for QuickBooks Online

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Intuit has announced a new bridging software solution that will let businesses transfer Excel-based VAT calculations into QuickBooks’ new end-to-end MTD for VAT software.

The announcement of Intuit’s bridging solution is certainly welcome. The anxiety over the role of spreadsheets in MTD has been pronounced. Just earlier this year, the confusion prompted AccountingWEB’s global editor John Stokdyk to ask ‘Where is the bridging software to plug the MTD gap?

The original MTD proposals cut spreadsheets out of the loop entirely. It was only after intense lobbying by the profession that HMRC yielded, thus coining the neologism ‘bridging software’. This bridging software would fix the spreadsheet conundrum by digitally linking a spreadsheet to HMRC via an MTD-ready software product.

MTD software solutions have started to trickle through now, with companies such as Clear Books, TaxCalc, Wolters Kluwer and DataDear offering their own variations.

Clear Books Micro, for example, replaces a client’s Excel spreadsheet with an equivalent, free online grid program to record sales, cash in and expenses, while TaxCalc’s VAT Filer app will import VAT data from a spreadsheet to feed an online MTD for VAT submission.

QuickBooks’ solution is more akin to TaxCalc’s method, allowing businesses to simply stick with Excel, rather than replacing it. It will be tacked onto QuickBooks’ suite of MTD-ready software and will be accessible to those with an active QuickBooks Online subscription.

According to Shaun Shirazian, Intuit’s UK head of product, the solution has been brewing in the background for some time. “All throughout our customer conversations, the one thing that kept popping up, again and again, was spreadsheets. There are small businesses that have been using Excel for years to manage their finances, who simply aren’t ready to move to the cloud quite yet.”

Shirazian said he hoped the bridging software would help assuage the anxiety that MTD has caused among accountants and their clients. He added that the bridging software could cater for both simple small businesses and bigger businesses with complex VAT affairs, thus appealing to finance teams, too.

“The exciting part now is once the product is out in the wild, we’ll see how it fares and it ends up being used. It could be that it becomes popular in a way we haven’t foreseen. We’ve made the user experience as easy as possible.”

The announcement kicked off Intuit’s Making Tax Delightful campaign, an event and marketing programme aimed at educating businesses about preparing for MTD.

QuickBooks Online is MTD-ready, and the company has successfully submitted MTD for VAT filings to HMRC as part of its beta programme. This bridging software will form part of the package.

About Francois Badenhorst

Francois

I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter. 

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24th Sep 2018 11:29

Great news!

Although I am only a very reluctant user of Cloud products - see my many posts on this subject - QBO is my preferred option where a client insists on the cloud.

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24th Sep 2018 11:54

QBO needs to be one of the first as they are pushing adverts on the TV. They cant be seen to be one of the last. Being first puts pressure on the other providers such that they may rush their development. Rushing invariably leads to mistakes - ask Microsoft.

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24th Sep 2018 12:06

I don't get it.

"It will be tacked onto QuickBooks’ suite of MTD-ready software and will be accessible to those with an active QuickBooks Online subscription".

If you are paying for a QBO subscription why would you keep your records on a spreadsheet still.

If you choose to keep records in spreadsheet form but still have to pay for a QBO than this surely defeats the object.

No one is allowed to file paper returns anymore, you have to either submit your return via software or via your tax account. If you type the numbers into bridging software which then submits it, how is this any different or improvement over just typing them into your .GOV account, which actually works and has done so for years.

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to Glennzy
24th Sep 2018 12:47

Thanks for asking the question - saves me having to type out exactly the same thing!

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By RedFive
to Glennzy
24th Sep 2018 13:18

I completely agree Glenn.

I was at QB connect in the toon on Thursday when they announced this and thought the same. You have to pay for a full QBO licence - so why still keep using the spreadsheet.

TaxCalc were also there and while I'm a big QB fan as you know if I did need to use bridging software I think their offering looks better. It will also be cheaper if you have more than 2 clients using it.

I think this is a bridging solution in both respects where a year down the line HMRC will realise they are still just getting the same 8 boxes as before whereas what they want is a full audit trail of the numbers behind the return (though they won't admit this yet)- at that point you will see the rules evolve and bridging software will be no more.

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to RedFive
24th Sep 2018 15:51

Hi Redfive

That would just seem badly thought out and clear case of profiteering from the situation, charging full subscription value for what would seem to be a form filler that can do the submission which surely is not that big a thing.

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to Glennzy
24th Sep 2018 15:50

I was going to say the same thing. What small businesses need is a pay-per-file piece of bridging software at, say £5 a go. The Quickbooks offering seems a complete waste of time for a small business unless Intuit rapidly rethink their pricing strategy.

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to mgbacchus
24th Sep 2018 17:17

Even £5 per filing seems a buit much for me (I don't want to spend a penny on it all never mind spend any time on it) and if I had a choice I'd pay £20 for some product I could use forever that would do.

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By Andy L
to EnglishRose
26th Sep 2018 17:22

Can't wait for someone to invent a golden goose......

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to Glennzy
25th Sep 2018 14:39

Hi Glenn,
I’m Shaun, Head of Product at QuickBooks - thanks for your comment! We’ve been giving this a lot of thought as well. We know from our own research and from speaking to our customers that they use QuickBooks in a variety of ways. Some use all of the functionality in the product and some only use parts of it. The benefit of QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online Accountant is that it is one platform that our customers and partners can use to run their business or firm. Many accountants let us know that they liked the idea of including our bridging solution as a part of the QB subscription because it gives them the flexibility and time to move their clients onto the cloud in a seamless way because all of the data will already be in QuickBooks. This means that for those businesses that are not quite ready to move to the cloud (for whatever reason), we can offer a staged approach, all in on one platform, so the experience remains consistent and easy. Our bridging solution will be available across all QuickBooks subscriptions – from the most basic plan to the most advanced. When we announce our availability and pricing, we’re confident you’ll find our offering competitive.

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to sshirazian
25th Sep 2018 16:00

You maybe need to give it some more thought or actually speak with your customers like Redfive who operate at the sharp end.

As a newish firm I don't have legacy issue client who have used spreadsheets for years and have no intention of using bridging software.

However if I did, I would want one product that say cost £100 per year that allowed me to file any VAT returns that fell outside of cloud software that was not charged on a per client basis, in the same way to payroll bureau payroll software that does all your filings for unlimited clients.

Client who want to retain spreadsheets wont pay a subscription to make 4 submissions per.

This is not seamlessly moving to the cloud, its just of way of charging people to meet their compliance obligations.

Thanks (4)
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to Glennzy
25th Sep 2018 22:36

Yes and the problem is not the fault of the companies, but HMRC who could relatively easily have made available a free very basic download product so you can bridge across from excel in the most basic way but have chosen not to do so.

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to sshirazian
26th Sep 2018 09:30

I am perhaps being thick, but how does having a solution that is 'available across all QuickBooks subscriptions' fit with 'businesses that are not quite ready to move to the cloud'? If they have a QB subscription, then they must be on the cloud, amirite?

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By Andy L
26th Sep 2018 17:22

I'm pretty sure the point here is to get spreadsheet clients to move onto QBO but give accountants the option not have to do it lock stock and barrel in one go by April, which is unrealistic across the board.

Speadsheet clients will have to start paying a subscription to comply with MTD and while there will be other solutions there will be clients accountants will be wanting to encourage on to the cloud. Seems reasonable to me.

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to Andy L
28th Sep 2018 07:50

Yes, that is not worng of the company to propose. But for those of us who like our paper or excel records and want to remain as close to paper account book as possible we need the least complex product- one that you load in having typed all your paper stuff on to excel (even that fills me with dread. I hate excel), does not use the cloud and just takes the excel data and does whatever has to be done to transmit the 9 boxes of data to HRMC on VAT return day 4 times a year.

I want HMRC to sell me which is the cheapest simplest product that does that - not link me to 150 software providers none of which yet have bridging software as HMRC has not specified it and most of which will not have that kind of simple non cloud product.

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By Matrix
24th Sep 2018 21:59

Small businesses who use spreadsheets don’t want to spend a penny on this.

At a webinar last week run by another cloud software company, HMRC said there would be free software for charities only.

So none of the software companies are, understandably, offering anything for free, even though this was included in the discussion document.

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to Matrix
25th Sep 2018 22:41

I remember that - HMRC suggested there would be basic free products, at the start. That is not a bad idea for a business triyng to convert all we paper records people - if we are tempted by something free, discover it is the best thing since sliced bread and get all into new software products it could mean more business later.

As it stands by April we are going to have to try to find the cheapest most simple product ideally with a one off fee which allows us to type some data on an excel sheet and then moves that over to HMRC 9 boxes information to submit our first return after April.

As of now HMRC have no products they can suggest and just a massive list of 150 companies to whom they have not yet specified what will be required for the basic bridging software. No busy small business has time to trawl through 150 companies and their products. The list at the least should have a section on products where there is no scanning of invoices, no information held in the cloud and with clear comparisons of price and how often you pay otherwise the mere exercise of choosing is going to be very expensive in terms of time.

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By Andy L
to EnglishRose
26th Sep 2018 17:24

EnglishRose wrote:

I remember that - HMRC suggested there would be basic free products, at the start.

That was before they scared off all their IT contractors with the 'IR35' rules.

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27th Sep 2018 11:57

I'm with Andy L.

Gone are the days when one wil pay a one-off fee. This is because of the rapid changes being forced on developers.

The cost of QB or any other cloud solution is small in the course of running a business. So I dont see the problem.

For us this option given by QBO bridging means that we will be able to retain more of our clients as we encourage them to change.

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By JSinden
27th Sep 2018 13:32

Will this allow a client to import each individual sales invoice into QBO if we can save it as a csv file from his invoicing system?

We currently only enter a monthly total for one client rather than inputting several hundred sales invoices. With MTD each invoice will need to be recorded separately - very time consuming and costly for the client!

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to JSinden
28th Sep 2018 07:52

JSinden wrote:

Will this allow a client to import each individual sales invoice into QBO if we can save it as a csv file from his invoicing system?

We currently only enter a monthly total for one client rather than inputting several hundred sales invoices. With MTD each invoice will need to be recorded separately - very time consuming and costly for the client!

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to JSinden
28th Sep 2018 14:06

you can already do that in QBO, just turn on the function in QBO Labs

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01st Oct 2018 12:19

Excellent idea for those not fully ready to commit.

QB also offer good value packages to us as accountants to supply on to clients to get clients at least on to QB Online.

All I need for some clients is to lift the box figures into a report and send it to HMRC (because HMRC won't let us use the HMRC submission on the HMRC site after MTD goes live..how stupid?). If HMRC think we will export every single entry just to meet their MTD fantasy they should think again.

HMRC want all the backing detail so they can use 'big data' to send out automatic queries and make all our lives a misery dealing with endless pointless queries which we will struggle to justify the cost to the client of dealing with.

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