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Making Tax Digital (MTD)
I am getting increasingly fed up reading articles about the delay in Making Tax Digital being a positive. The hint is in the word “delay”. Ok so some unpopular bits of MTD have been changed but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. HMRC have a target and a “big” budget to achieve this target so it will happen. We simply have an extra few years in which to be ready.
So does this mean accountants can just relax and say “great I don’t need to worry about this for another two years.” What??? Of course not. It takes time to train clients in using the cloud accounting software needed to cope with MTD and they also need time to practice. The accountants will need to cope with this extra work while still doing their everyday stuff.
I was speaking to a four partner practice recently who had not even started the process and they were blaming their staff for being unwilling to help but the truth is the partners have not given them the skills to cope. Certifying their accounts staff for both Xero and QuickBooks is surely a given but they are concerned about the lost chargeable hours that training their staff causes. They hadn’t even worked out that to be ready for 2020 they would need to transition a minimum of 35 clients every month from now to be ready.
This is a common question from many of our clients and the answer does depend slightly on whether you are a sole trader, partner in a partnership or you are employed.
The general rule for a business (so that is the sole trader, partnership or limited company) is that an expense should be “wholly and exclusively” for the purposes of the trade. If you apply this principle correctly tax relief will be denied on any expenses which have “duality of purpose”. So if there is both a personal benefit and a business benefit then HMRC will not allow you to deduct it as an expense. Gym membership is not for the benefit of a business even if you occasionally meet a business client there so in all normal situations tax relief is not available.
Making Tax Digital continues to have a torrid time and on this occasion caused by the early general election. The majority of this year’s Finance Bill has been dropped to ensure it can be passed quickly and without potential delays because of the general election. 110 out of 135 items in the original plan have now been dropped including the Making Tax Digital provisions. So the finance bill has gone from 760 pages down to just 140 pages.
Does this mean the end of Making Tax Digital?
Unlike the term Solicitor, Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) or Architect, the word Accountant is not protected. Yes an unqualified solicitor can lose you money, lose your rights, even lose your property so it is important that a solicitor is formally qualified so you are protected. Yes an unqualified IFA can lose your cash in a dubious investment or put your pension into a poorly performing fund so it is important that your IFA is formally qualified so you are protected. And yes an unqualified Architect can design a building which could fall over so your biggest investment you will ever have could be left valueless so it is important that your Architect is formally qualified so you are protected.
It all started a long, long time ago…...
We were all using the Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar so this was a system adopted in 45 BC. Although this calendar was reasonably accurate it differed from the solar calendar by 11 ½ minutes each year which was no big problem as far as Julius Caesar was concerned and in fact was not a problem for many years after his death. However by 1582 it had built up to be 10 days out of sync with the solar calendar and Pope Gregory X111 decided a change was necessary. So he introduced the aptly named Gregorian Calendar which reduced the length of a calendar year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days…In effect a reduction of 10 minutes and 48 seconds per year.