Making Tax Digital soft landing extended for a year

HMRC has postponed plans to require businesses to maintain end-to-end dynamic data in VAT records due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

The requirement was due to come into effect from 1 April 2020, but will be delayed for a year to further ease the pressure on businesses.

Email announcement 

HMRC revealed the change in an email to stakeholders:

‘We understand that the impact of COVID-19 is creating extremely difficult times for all, and we are committed to helping in every way possible all those businesses facing unprecedented challenges.

‘Therefore, we are providing all MTD businesses with more time to put in place digital links between all parts of their functional compatible software. This means that all businesses now have until their first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2021 to put digital links in place.’

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Digital journey

From April 2019 once those mandated to comply with VAT MTD entered accounting data into their business’s accounting software they have been required to transfer, recapture or modify that data using digital links. Effectively, once VAT data has been digitally captured the rest of its journey until the submission of a VAT return must be a digital journey without manual intervention.

Soft landing

HMRC recognised that not all businesses would have digital links in place from day one and allowed a period of grace, the “soft landing period”.  HMRC promised that where businesses were trying to meet the statutory digital end to end journey during the soft-landing period the department would not to impose penalties for non-compliance.

The effect of the soft landing announcement meant that for the first year of mandation businesses were not be required to have digital links between software programs.

For most MTD for VAT rules have applied from VAT period starting on or after 1 April 2019. Although there was a smaller group where mandation was deferred until the start of the first VAT return period on or after 1 October 2020.

What it means

All businesses mandated to comply with MTD for VAT, now have until their first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2021 to put digital links in place.

Given the coronavirus related troubles affecting practically all businesses in the UK this extension to the soft landing period is another sensible easement that is to be much welcomed.

Brian Palmer, AAT tax and policy advisor, said:

“I’m positive that HMRC is absolutely committed to further roll out of MTD, particularly to the self-employed for income tax purposes. But this extension demonstrates in the short term everything is on hold as the UK grapples with the fallout from the corona virus.”

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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