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Ten months ahead of Making Tax Digital’s planned rollout, the British Chambers of Commerce has called for HMRC’s flagship scheme to be delayed by one year. But according to others, it’s time to get cracking.
The BCC, which represents 75,000 businesses, has warned that an alarmingly high proportion of UK businesses have little or no awareness of the MTD project. Its member research indicated that 24% of firms have never heard of MTD and only 10% of firms know ‘a lot of details’ about it.
Two-thirds (66%) of the 1,100 respondents said they know MTD only by name or some details about it.
The general ignorance of MTD goes hand-in-hand with an enduring dissatisfaction among businesses with HMRC’s service. 60% of respondents to the BCC survey gave the tax authority a rating of three or less out of five.
“Ministers must face up to the reality of the pressures facing HMRC and delay the introduction of Making Tax Digital for all businesses for the next financial year,” said Mike Spicer, the BCC’s director of economics and research. “This would allow the Revenue to focus its immediate attention on supporting businesses through the Brexit process, which must be a key priority.”
Notably, the BCC’s research was conducted in partnership with Avalara, the Seattle-based VAT software specialist. Avalara recently concluded a successful listing on the New York Stock Exchange and is likely to be a big post-MTD player.
Avalara’s reaction to the research fell shy of the BCC’s call for a delay. But the company’s VP of global indirect tax, Richard Asquith, noted, “It is still not clear how [businesses] can become compliant without more education plus investment in compliance accounting packages.”
But another prominent software house has taken a dimmer view of the BCC’s call. Commenting on the story, a Sage spokesperson said the UK “cannot sit back any longer”.
They continued, “Sage believes that the call by the British Chambers of Commerce, to delay the start of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT by up to two years, is a backwards step in helping thousands of UK businesses on their digital journey.
“Since the launch of this important initiative by the government, the technology sector has stepped up to offer businesses [of all sizes] the access to advice and tools they need to succeed.
“We talk to thousands of customers and accountants every day and what businesses are calling for is clarity and certainty. Sage will continue to fight for a clear path forward so that we can embrace the opportunities technology brings, not hide from it or attempt to hold it back”
This article was originally posted on our sister site, AccountingWEB.