MTDfB Update: Two lunchtime learning sessions down, four still to go...

Nick Forsyth Accountant EssexPosted by Nick Fosyth:

Unlike many Firms, Lambert Chapman LLP have recognised that Making Tax Digital (MTD) and Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) is going to be an issue for many small businesses and we have therefore put together a program of training and events to try and make the transition as straightforward as possible. Since my last piece on the topic, we have held a MTD launch for clients and contacts at Chelmsford City Racecourse which was very well received and attended by around 70 delegates, followed by two lunchtime learning sessions, specifically for clients who will be affected, but open to those already using software to run their accounting records but wanting to know what this #MTDfB is all about.

Due to the success of the first two learning sessions, we have added a further two to the programme as places are limited at Weston Homes Community Stadium and our next Braintree event is at full capacity. Please visit our Events Page and make a booking if you wish to learn more.

So what have we learned from the sessions already delivered? Firstly, that not many people know what 'Making Tax Digital' actually is. Feedback is that delegates have asked other traders what they know about it and the answer seems to be “I haven’t heard of it”, so it appears our profession remains in denial regarding responsibilities to clients.

Of those attending. it's clear why some continue doing paper records - it’s what they know and in some cases it’s all they know, so moving forward will be a challenge to them. We quote stats from an OFCOM survey that demonstrate 59% of homes now own a tablet device and 71% of UK adults now have a smartphone. It also suggests that 97% of small and medium businesses have access to the internet. Of course these statistics are used to suggest that an appetite for digital services exists and that there is a degree of digital capability across the small business spectrum.

Whilst the stats are borne out by our delegates, further examination may show a different perspective. Many don’t exploit the smartphone facilities choosing only to take advantage of calls, texts and perhaps the camera facility, whilst those more experienced also do emails. Tablet users are utilising emails, their calendar and low-level browsing of the internet to pick up media previously delivered through the letterbox each morning. Doing this on a tablet enables us to stay in the lounge with the television rather than another room with the PC, but it does present problems when the wife starts talking to us or we don’t quite keep up with the plot on the television.... or is that just me?

That said, for the majority it appears to be not App, App, App suggesting that MTDfB is more than a little misguided. That is being borne out by our delegates. They are not competent accountants or bookkeepers who can go to trial balance but they can do the main bits well. They haven’t wanted to go digital because they don’t understand how the double entry bit works, so want to stick with what they know. A bit like me when it came to repairing my first car in the early 1980’s – I have no idea so find someone else who does!

So will the Election 2017 result save us? In order to close Parliament for the campaign, MTD was left out of the Finance Act because it was stripped down and with the expected landslide, could easily be put back in later. Now that majority hasn’t materialised it may be lower on the agenda, but there is no reason for any delay unless IT development falls behind at HM Revenue & Customs end.

During the campaign, Jeremy Corbyn said that he would scrap MTD for anyone with a turnover under £83,000 so if things go badly wrong and the Government are forced back to the Country, we may see some leverage if Labour win. However I wouldn’t use this as a reason to delay making any necessary plans you have, but it does seem a sensible policy to me.

So if you want to learn more about MTDfB including narrowing down your software choices - please come along to a session and see if we can help you make some decisions to prepare you for your staging date. If nothing else, the sandwiches are terrific!

June 2017

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the Author and other professionals may express different views. They may not be the views of Lambert Chapman LLP. The material in the article cannot and should not be considered as exhaustive. Professional advice should be sought in connection with any of the issues contained in the article and the implementation of any actions.

What Next?