Financial secretary asks for input on government’s ‘bold vision’ for digital tax

Written by Rebecca Hill on 7 September 2016 in News
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The government has urged organisations to offer their opinions on the wide-ranging digital tax reforms proposed last month, the financial secretary has said.

Reforms to income tax will be implemented first - Photo credit: Flickr, Images money

Addressing the HMRC annual conference this week, Jane Ellison said that it was vital that there was an open and constructive dialogue between HRMC and its stakeholders.

Her speech set out the ways in which the government is planning to reform tax to make sure it is “fair, paid and competitive”.

In addition, she noted the government’s aim of making the UK a world-leader in digital tax services.

“We want HMRC to offer all our customers a top quality, fully digital service alongside its existing services,” Ellison said, adding that the government had made a £1.3bn investment with which to manage the reforms.


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She said that the government knew the reforms marked a “big change” - remarking to conference attendees that she had "read your tweets" - and urged them to offer feedback on the plans.

“We really want you to continue to share your insights and experiences, your priorities and your concerns,” she said. “Because we listen to what you have to say.”

To demonstrate the government's willingness to engage, she pointed to the exemption granted to small businesses and landlords and the move to push back the introduction of changes for slightly larger businesses.

The Making Tax Digital reforms, which were first announced last year, will be introduced in phases, with income tax going live first, in April 2018, and corporation tax obligations last in April 2020. It will see businesses being required to keep digital records and produce quarterly updates for HMRC.

In a series of six consultations, launched in August and running until 7 November, the government sets out more details of what businesses can expect and asks for input on the changes and their potential impact.

Consultation questions for businesses ask what software products might be necessary for businesses to keep digital records, how data should be categorised and whether the proposed exemption from online reporting for companies earning less than £10,000 is suitable.

The government also asks how much financial support it should put towards investing in new IT, software and training and who this should be targeted at.

Meanwhile, one consultation looks at how to improve the use of third party information to transform the tax system, and another looks at voluntary pay-as-you-go payments.

These payments will allow unincorporated businesses, sole traders and landlords to make payments throughout the year, which the government says will be possible because the online tax systems will let them clearly see their liabilities.

The idea is to help people set money aside to prevent shocks and reduce late payment charges – and to do this without HMRC’s systems rejecting unexpected payments, which can be problematic for businesses.

HMRC is running a series of live webinars on the six consultations for both those who are interested in the reforms and tax agents and advisers throughout September and October, as well as face-to-face events for more detailed discussions.

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