Milton Keynes-based tax software developer Forbes Computer is expanding the reach of its MTD for VAT software with data links to popular small practice applications from Moneysoft and Sage.
Forbes claims to be the first UK organisation to have submitted data to HMRC’s Making Tax Digital system back in 2017, but that was for the original income tax regime. As a practice specialist, Forbes was not so well positioned to support the revised MTD for VAT go-live scheduled for April 2019.
But founder David Forbes is a resourceful programmer who likes a challenge. Having tested the MTD waters early he decided to dive more deeply into VAT filing - traditionally the preserve of bookkeeping software.
Forbes is now included on HMRC’s list as one of the developers working on MTD for VAT filing tools. Collating the correct VAT totals meant the company had to build its own online bookkeeping system, which will file directly to HMRC.
Out in the small practice market that Forbes serves, bookkeeping applications such as VT Transaction+, Sage 50, Moneysoft and Excel are more popular, so Forbes also created a bridging solution that will import VAT figures from these programs.
Linking to other tools in the practice market has been part of the Forbes strategy for years, and having negotiated the sometimes tricky protocol surrounding Sage’s data structures, David Forbes said that the other applications did not pose much of a problem. “It was quite interesting deciphering the data file formats,” he told AccountingWEB. “In the same way that to read in the Excel data, we don’t require a copy of Excel - we read in the data byte by byte.”
Now that it has an online bookkeeping program to accompany its tax, accounts production, practice management and company secretarial software, Forbes is in a position to challenge cloud practice disrupters such as Capium, Taxfiler and Nomisma as well as established brands such as IRIS, Sage and Wolters Kluwer that have responded to the market shift with cloud solutions of their own.
“The middle of tax season is not the right time to announce a new product,” said Forbes. “The bookkeeping program will be released in April. Like the online versions of all our products, it will be interoperable with our desktop software.
“That means you can choose whether you want to use cloud, desktop or alternate between the two, for example, times when cloud doesn’t work, like on aeroplanes.”
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.