Thomson Reuters launches first MTD apps

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Thomson Reuters announced new applications at its Synergy user conference to support practitioners and their clients through the Making Tax Digital (MTD) pilot scheme that starts next month.

“We are proud to be first developer to provide a solution in response to Making Tax Digital,” Thomson Reuters managing director Andrew Flanagan told the audience at the Warwickshire event.

Onvio Tax is a further step into online applications for Thomson Reuters and can conncect to clients’ personal tax accounts using HMRC’s application programming interfaces (APIs). The program will automate the collection and processing of client bookkeeping data through to the quarterly updates posted via their digital tax accounts.

Some of the source data will come via the company’s companion mobile app, OnBalance, which was also unveiled at Synergy. OnBalance is designed to capture receipts via the smartphone camera and record simple transactions that it will pass through to Onvio Tax.

Both applications will be made available to Thomson Reuters customers who take part in the MTD pilot, which opens for business on 6 April.

The mobile app attracted a lot of attention at the Synergy event as the front end to the MTD data capture process. “It’s a simple transaction recorder,” explained Thomson Reuters tax product manager Mark Purdue.

“The focus of what we’re doing with OnBalance, Onvio Trial Balance and Onvio Tax is to get transaction data categorised and into HRMC.”

OnBalance can take pictures of receipts, but is not equipped to extract the data via optical character recognition - yet. Users will need to enter the normal expense categories as listed on their self employment tax forms, or their accountant can categorise them when they access the data in the online trial balance program.

The mobile app has a mileage recorder that relies on the phone’s GPS to log journeys.

“OnBalance is aimed at small traders with their bags of paper and property landords so they can capture transactions themselves. It won’t do invoicing or VAT,” Purdue said.

“We want to encourage small landlords to take part in the pilot, and OnBalance is ideal for them. They can tick a box that says it’s property income, and manage multiple properties.

A single button click will feed the client’s mobile app data through to the accountant’s Onvio Trial Balance program where they can enter any journal adjustments and get the figures ready for the final figure to be submitted through the tax product.

There are still some limitations in the functionality, but Purdue said this would evolve as the pilot progresses.

During his introductory speech, Thomson Reuters MD Flanagan took a moment to reassure conference delegates that it would not be leaving users of its desktop products behind.

“In parallel with Onvio Tax, we are investing in desktop solutions. “Digita Personal Tax is MTD-compliant, and has been tested to work with personal tax accounts. It’s up to you to choose what you work with and when you move to cloud.”

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and AccountingWEB.com.

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By JSJ54
29th Mar 2017 12:15

So a smartphone camera and the ability to record simple transactions will give us the data to prepare accounts for HMRC?

The monkeys have the keys to the zoo.

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29th Mar 2017 12:30

@John "The program will automate the collection and processing of client bookkeeping data..."

From what sources and to what level of detail?

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to Adrian Pearson
29th Mar 2017 13:36

Some additional comments added following a demo - pretty simple at the moment: manual input to expense categories as set out on current tax returns.

More complex categories will be mappable in the TB program, but not as yet. Everything is being dumbed down to match early MTD pilot processes

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to John Stokdyk
30th Mar 2017 16:15

Thanks John, but no real detail there then. Surely some bookkeeping solutions other than their own will need to be integrated?

Also no detail of likely pricing to accountants. Will OnBalance also be offered as a retail product to small business owners direct?

This is good advertising/PR for the vendor but not that informative for AWeb readers. Come on John, ask 'em some questions!

(Also, that screenshot looks like a web app, rather than a phone app?)

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29th Mar 2017 12:39

i am just imagining scanning 14 receipts for the day...then having to split some receipts as it includes non business expenditure....and then reallocating some as they are capital not revenue...

Next someone will suggest something ground breaking like using a bookkeeper to record the entries...

I hope those who suggested this utter sham remember what they originally said about it....(easy to use/simple quick for clients/reduce tax difference etc) because as with many things they will be long forgotten and they will in time sell a different message to suggest its a success.

On that point John, this site is still a shambles...albeit with a lot fewer stupid questions as there seems to be a drop in people posting them. Indeed all of those strong technical members have gone too....did you achieve the goal....(whatever that was...)

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By booksy
29th Mar 2017 14:27

White van man/lady just back from buying some supplies probably parked on double yellow lines no parking available so he/she is stressed as hell. His mobile won't shut up - he's got clients waiting. So he looks at his new supplies and checks they are what he wanted and starts prioritising the rest of the day. He leaves as quickly as possible and just avoids a ticket. Stress. Mobile still bleating. He tells clients he is really sorry and is on his way - delay caused by hiccup in supply chain. Now at which point did he stop and record the receipt between the purchase and him getting home knackered at 7pm. HMRC are really the most out of touch people I have ever encountered.

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By mabzden
29th Mar 2017 16:31

This seems to be an early bird product targeting pretty much the last group of taxpayers who'll switch over to MTD in three years time - or maybe never if there are more changes and/or delays.

But good luck to them.

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29th Mar 2017 20:26

John was any pricing available for these apps are they chargeable on the accountant as part of deal with Digita, and free to clients. Do you have to buy banded licences like you do with other Digita products in blocks of 25 or whatever.

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29th Mar 2017 21:49

So it automates expense processing but doesn't have OCR.

Impressive.

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30th Mar 2017 09:09

Wake me up when there is a add-in to excel that files my client's 2 lines a quarter to HMRC.

That's all I want to shove the data down the pipe.

Preferably with a bulk send option.

Please listen developers, we dont want a new accounting system, just a way of throwing data to HMRC from existing systems. You will clean up.

Dont link it to mobile phones, image capture or anything like that, just basic "enter 2 lines of data, press button, file"

This would ideally be embedded in excel on the desktop, or could be via an import script from excel into a cloud system.

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
30th Mar 2017 10:53

Oh you talk such sense - if only HMRC understood what happens 'our side of the fence' and came up with a system which helped not hindered all concerned!

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By 0098087
30th Mar 2017 10:44

So instead of my VT Transaction for around £150 a year and tax filer for £180 a year how much am I supposed to pay.

And then tell the clients, it's only £30 a month plus VAT, which you aren't registered to claim back for and it's easier, and they say what was wrong with writing it in a book. As shambolic as Brexit!

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30th Mar 2017 11:49

On the basis that we are trying to use their Accounts Production Advance, which is a disgrace in terms of functionality & glitches, I don't hold out much hope for this!

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30th Mar 2017 21:46

When, exactly, did some moron think that taking crappy out-of-focus photos of receipts would become a substitute for book-keeping ?
But wait, I've just had a better idea !
Instead of waving a faded, crumpled, thermal-printed receipt for some diesel, a packet of Marlboro Gold, a Costa coffee and a bottle of Chardonnay around in the cab of your white van while wafting around a smartphone in the other hand (cigarette would obviously be in mouth at this point but give us another million years and evolution might whip up a third hand) in the vain hope that in the second you press the shutter button, both items are roughly lined up, imagine if only you could look after that receipt safely for just a few hours, take it back to the office/home/spare bedroom/shed, and there put it on some sort of special machine or device which avoids the wafting palaver, and then somehow, oh I can't think of a word for it, maybe "scans" it ? Possibly ? And then it could even, (imagine this !), "save" an "image" of this to your computer ? And then, maybe in a couple of decades or so, when technology has caught up, you might even be able to "email" this image to someone who actually knows what to do with it ? And maybe in another couple of decades after that, there would be people you could employ who might actually be able to look at this receipt and just enter the actual numbers that matter into some sort of device which could add up and even summarise all those numbers into some sort of useful format. Now that's what I would call progress !

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to Barkster
30th Mar 2017 22:00

Ha ha! Well said! You've got me laughing out loud to your wonderful response!

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14th Jun 2017 21:52

A good rule I learned over 30 years' ago - never write a program without a specification - and similarly never ask someone to write a program for you without giving them a specification.
Good luck with the App.

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