Nick Forsyth: Directing the non Making Tax Digital client to their VAT returns
I took what I thought was an April Fools call yesterday morning but alas not. A client wishing to file their 31 March 2019 VAT return had made an early start, only to discover the log in screens had changed and were instead presented with a page stating ‘You have no returns to complete’ and no obvious way forward. The annual turnover of the client was under £85,000 so I had anticipated that the design might remain the same, but that wasn’t the case.
We logged into our Agents account on the HMRC site to see that it looked similar so had to use a client for whom we file the VAT returns using their log in. That confirmed that the screen looked different so the task was on to learn the new system.
To be truthful, it wasn’t that difficult but unless you read all of the text it might prove a problem. The new screen offers you the opportunity to view your VAT account and then to access your return. At that point you see a screen talking about setting up direct debits with a paragraph at the top about Making Tax Digital (#MTD).
If your turnover is less than £85,000 then you are not required to have registered for MTD and so you could be mistaken for thinking you have been taken to the wrong place. Similarly, if you do not wish to pay by direct debit you can equally feel that you are again on the right page. You might therefore feel that you don’t want to click “Next” as this will take you further into the direct debit registration.
However, the last sentence on the page is all important. If you don’t want to set up a direct debit then you need to proceed to your return by hitting “Next”. At that point, you select to look at your returns and this then takes you to a screen that displays the all-important information which you click on and it displays the Government Gateway boxes that you have been used to using.
For those entering MTD you will know that the Government Gateway was to be withdrawn. I think this is the reason why the screens for the under £85,000 have been changed. Most taxpayers won’t want to change without encouragement as they know and understand the old system well. Under MTD the purpose is to make sure that taxpayers have no choice about what gets submitted on VAT returns hence the switch from manual records to software. It is felt that less “mistakes” will be made when compiling records using software.
However, for those under £85,000 who have registered for VAT voluntarily, the need remains for them to make their returns. The trouble with this is that the new opening screen tells them that their returns are up to date indicating that none need to be submitted. We all know that there are some taxpayers who will take this statement literally so we ought to expect calls regarding surcharges and penalties.
One day in, client confusion, research, staff training so that we can direct others suffering similar confusion and all relating to non MTD clients. What fun the next three months offers!