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Treasury committee suggests relaxing MTD timetable

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The chair of the Commons Treasury Committee, Andrew Tyrie, has written to the chancellor setting out the committee’s concerns about the timetable for delivery of ‘making tax digital’ (MTD). Mr Tyrie suggests a delay beyond the proposed start date of April 2018, or possibly a period during which the new systems could be piloted (see here).

A number of views were expressed during the committee’s oral evidence session, ‘Shifting sands: an inquiry into UK tax policy and the tax base’, held on 6 September. One concern was the proximity of the consultation closing date to the publication of draft Finance Bill 2017 clauses on 5 December. Mr Tyrie’s letter states: ‘Given the length of the consultation papers and the complexity of the issues, many of those comments may well not be received much before the closing date of 7 November. Legislating in Finance Bill 2017 means that there will be little time for further development of the proposals.’

Issues raised in evidence given to the committee included:

  • The digital record keeping requirement is tantamount to prescription by HMRC of a particular form in which accounting records must be maintained.
  • It is not known for how long free availability of digital tools for the smallest businesses can be assured.
  • It is unclear how quarterly updates will align with universal credit monthly updates.
  • The smallest businesses with a turnover of just over £10,000 will be hardest hit by more frequent bookkeeping.

The committee does nevertheless acknowledge that a properly designed system of ‘nudges and prompts’ could have benefits, including making it less intimidating for businesses to deal with HMRC.

Mr Tyrie signs off his letter with: ‘Better to get it right than to stick to a rigid timetable.’

Separately, HMRC has announced that 5 million taxpayers have now signed up to their online personal tax account.