Tax Talk: HMRC invites businesses to trial Making Tax Digital for VAT
HMRC has called on accounting institutes to help it recruit businesses for its Making Tax Digital for VAT pilot which starts in April 2018, with numbers limited at this stage

The pilot is slated to begin in April 2018, with a selected number of businesses being given the opportunity to submit their VAT returns via the new system. HMRC will monitor the progress of the VAT returns to ensure the system is working as expected before the new service is opened more widely.

As part of the trial, all businesses will have to do submit their VAT return using the new digital system with HMRC providing help if businesses need it.

The benefits of taking part in the scheme include:

  • Testing the new system before anyone else;
  • Practice using the service before it becomes mandatory;
  • Being kept up to date with service developments by HMRC; and
  • The ability to influence how the service looks and feels.

HMRC has highlighted that businesses will not face greater scrutiny for taking part and any monitoring is for testing purposes only with no additional compliance checks. Returns successfully submitted through the new system will undergo the same checks as they were submitted through the current system.

Businesses are free to leave the trial at any time. HMRC said: ‘As this is a new system, there may be some technical hiccups. HMRC has promised to do its best to address these swiftly, but if for whatever reason you find you no longer want to take part in the trial, you are free to leave at any time.’

For businesses that do not currently use software HMRC will work with a suitable supplier to ensure they have access.

From 1 April 2019, VAT registered businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold must maintain their business records digitally and submit their VAT return through a new system.

Those interested in taking part in the trial can contact HMRC at HMRC will then get in touch to complete a short survey which will help them establish specific features about the business in order to manage the trial period.

An HMRC spokesperson said: ‘HMRC recently started small-scale technical testing for VAT as part of plans for Making Tax Digital.

‘We have been working with stakeholders throughout the development of MTD and a number of professional bodies have approached their members to encourage them to participate in the live pilot, starting in the Spring.

‘This pilot will be widened over the coming months as further functionality is added.’

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If you have a tax query, why not contact the Tax Advice Line on 0844 892 2470 to discuss it. Our team of experts have a wealth of experience and can also provide a written consultancy service at £180 per hour plus VAT.

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Amy Austin is reporter, Accountancy Daily, published by Croner-i Ltd, responsible for news and reporting, covering buy-to-let taxes, Brexit, careers and diversity, millennials and internships, and Making Tax Digital, as well as wider tax, audit and accounting issues. Before joining Accountancy, she worked for a number of publishers as an intern and studied journalism at University of Roehampton.