What is Making Tax Digital? (MTD)

MTD is the biggest shake-up of the personal tax system in 20 years and will fundamentally change the way taxpayers report to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and keep their business records. Taxpayers will be required to keep records digitally and update HMRC more frequently than is currently the case. The roll out of MTD will commence in April 2018.

The general principles of MTD

The government has decided how the general principles of MTD will operate. Draft legislation has been issued on some aspects and more will be published in Finance Bill 2017.

Under MTD, businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to:

  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC on a quarterly basis through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (“DTAs”)
  • make an ‘End of Year’ declaration through their DTAs.

DTAs are online areas where a business can see its tax details and interact with HMRC digitally.


Businesses, self-employed people and landlords with turnover under £10,000 are exempt from these requirements.

There will also be a very limited exemption for businesses or people who “cannot engage digitally”.

Changes announced in the Budget

The Chancellor announced a one year deferral (to April 2019) from the mandating of MTD for unincorporated businesses and landlords with turnover below the VAT threshold (currently £85,000).

For the self-employed and landlords that have turnovers in excess of the VAT threshold, the commencement date will continue to be from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018.

Lords call for delay

The House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, Finance Bill Sub-Committee (FBSC), have been looking at the potential impact of the MTD proposals. The FBSC have now published a critical report (“The Draft Finance Bill 2017: Making Tax Digital for Business”) calling for a far more cautious approach by the government to the roll out of MTD. The committee has recommended delaying the introduction of the scheme to 2020 to allow for a full pilot.

The report concludes that the roll-out of the scheme is being rushed, imposing unnecessary burdens on small businesses and landlords, and will yield little benefit to the government. The Lords’ committee recognised the unprecedented technological and logistical challenges that would be faced by the small businesses that do not currently maintain digital records or interact with HMRC on a frequent basis. The committee are also concerned that the government’s estimate of the ‘tax gap’ saving is fragile and not based on adequate evidence.

New penalty regime

HMRC are set to introduce a new regime for late submission penalties and late payment sanctions under MTD. HMRC have now opened a consultation on how the new penalty regime should operate.

The consultation paper sets out three possible models for late submission penalties and provides an update on late payment penalty interest.

The proposals have been developed with the new MTD obligations in mind but the consultation also explores the suitability of the sanctions for other regular submission obligations. The consultation also provides an update on late payment penalty interest as a sanction for late payment of income tax, corporation tax and VAT.

The consultation closes on 11 June 2017.

How do I prepare for Making Tax Digital?

Over the coming weeks and months, we will provide further guidance on what MTD will mean for your business and explain the practical steps you should take to ensure a smooth transition to MTD.

If your business does not already keep digital records, you should consider doing so now so you can start to familiarise yourself with the software.

If you wish to discuss the implications of MTD for you and your business, please get in touch with your usual Hawsons contact.

Alternatively, we offer all new clients a free initial meeting to have a discussion about their own personal circumstances – find out more or book your free initial meeting here. We have offices in Sheffield, Doncaster and Northampton.



Craig Walker is a senior tax manager at the firm. He advises on all matters tax related, both corporate and personal, including income, capital gains and inheritance. For more details and advice, please contact Craig on [email protected] or 0114 266 7141.