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Taxation: Electronic Government

Question for Treasury

UIN 220106, tabled on 12 February 2019

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the cost to SMEs of Making Tax Digital.

Answered on

18 February 2019

Businesses who are registered for VAT and whose taxable turnover exceeds the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 will be required to keep their records digitally and file their VAT returns using Making Tax Digital (MTD) compatible software for periods starting on or after 1 April. For the majority of businesses, who file quarterly, their first MTD returns won’t be due until August or later. Small businesses with turnover below the VAT threshold are not required to join, but can do so voluntarily.

HMRC are using a range of methods to communicate with businesses and agents, both paid for and free, in order to ensure businesses are aware of the changes and know what they need to do to prepare.

Thousands of businesses have already joined the MTD VAT pilot service. HMRC are on track to have written to every business who is required to join MTD by the end of February, encouraging them to join the pilot and pointing them to the range of help and support that is available.

HMRC’s Impact Assessment for MTD, published on 1 December 2017, was developed through a widespread and comprehensive programme of work that considered the costs and requirements of businesses across the VAT population. The methodology and modelling has been rigorously reviewed, including by trusted external stakeholders such as the Administrative Burdens Advisory Board (ABAB). The Impact Assessment considered the requirements for businesses of different sizes and practices, including small businesses.

Businesses and accountants are making preparations for the introduction of MTD, and thousands have already joined the pilot on a voluntary basis to test the service before they are mandated to use it. Most businesses will not need to submit their first VAT return through the new service until August at the earliest. For the first year, penalties will not be issued for late filing, only for late payment.

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