Making Tax Digital for Income Tax – Should you prepare now?

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Date: 27 May 2022

A businesswomen uses MTD-compliant software to submit her income tasx self assessment

All VAT-registered businesses in the UK must now meet new reporting requirements introduced by the government's Making Tax Digital initiative. If you don't run a VAT-registered business, Making Tax Digital won't have affected you so far. You may not have even heard of Making Tax Digital.

However, if you report income and pay tax via self assessment, Making Tax Digital is likely to impact you from April 2024. The changes that Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA) will bring are significant, so it's worth finding out more about MTD for ITSA so you're better prepared and can avoid paying a non-compliance penalty.

In this guide you can:

  • Find out what Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment is.
  • Discover whether you'll be affected by MTD for ITSA.
  • Learn how MTD for ITSA will change the reporting of taxable income.

What is Making Tax Digital?

Making Tax Digital is an important government digital initiative that is already transforming the UK tax system. Its introduction began in 2019 and it will roll out over the next few years. The VAT reporting system has already been digitised and income tax self assessment is next, before corporation tax gets the MTD treatment. Full introduction of MTD across the entire UK tax system remains some years off.

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Why is Making Tax Digital being introduced?

The government says it wants to make it easier for people and businesses to efficiently manage their tax responsibilities. It is also hoped that MTD will prevent basic tax reporting errors that cost the UK many billions a year in lost tax revenue.

Introduction of MTD for ITSA was due to start on 6 April 2023, but it's been delayed until 6 April 2024 in response to COVID-19. Stakeholder groups also asked for more time so that businesses and individuals could prepare for MTD for ITSA.

Put in very basic terms, Making Tax Digital for Income Tax is simply a new way of using digital solutions to report income and expenses to HMRC every quarter rather than once a year.

Who will be affected by Making Tax Digital for ITSA?

  • If you're a self-employed sole trader or landlord who is registered for income tax self assessment and you have a gross income of more than £10,000, you'll need to comply with MTD for ITSA requirements from 6 April 2024.
  • Members of ordinary business partnerships who earn more than £10,000 a year must sign up for MTD for ITSA by 6 April 2025.
  • You can apply for a MTD for ITSA exemption if it's not practical for you to use software to keep digital records or submit them to HMRC digitally. For example, because of your age, disability, location (ie poor broadband connection) or another justifiable reason. MTD exemption can also be granted on religious grounds. You'll need to explain your reasons to HMRC and an alternative solution will be sought.

How will reporting change under MTD for ITSA?

Sole traders, landlords and other self assessment taxpayers with taxable income will no longer be required to submit an annual self assessment tax return (unless they choose to report income from other sources such as shares and interest) However, HMRC would prefer taxpayers to report all taxable income via MTD for ITSA.

MTD for ITSA requires you to maintain digital records of your taxable income and expenses/costs, update them regularly and send summary figures to HMRC digitally within a month of the end of every quarter.

If you need to report via MTD for ITSA you must use:

  • MTD for ITSA-compatible third-party software, or
  • "bridging software" that allows you to send the necessary information digitally in the right format to HMRC from non-MTD-compatible software, spreadsheets or other such non-compliant records.

At the end of the tax year (5 April), you will be required to submit your "end of period statement" (EOPS) and a final declaration (the MTD version of the current self assessment tax return). This will confirm the accuracy of the figures yo've submitted, with any accounting adjustments made and any additional earnings reported. HMRC will then send you your tax bill, which you must pay before 31 January in the following tax year. Unjustifiable late submissions or payments will continue to result in penalties.

Should you sign up for MTD for ITSA now?

Some businesses, landlords and accountants are already taking part in a live Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment pilot scheme.

You don't have to sign up for MTD for ITSA yet. However, you can sign up voluntarily now for MTD for ITSA and start using the service if you're:

  • a UK resident
  • registered for self assessment and your returns and payments are up to date
  • a sole trader with income from one business or a landlord who rents out UK property

You can't currently sign up if you also need to report income from other sources (eg share dividends).

Need to know! At this stage, it's probably best to delay signing up for MTD for ITSA. The new system is very much in its infancy, with HMRC taking steps to refine it to iron out any issues and provide a better user experience.

Conclusion

Preparation is key, starting to use digital software now to record income and expenses on a regular basis will get you into the routine before MTD for ITSA comes into effect.

As April 2024, approaches you will then be in a better place to decide what software or bridging software will be best for your circumstance/business.

Sponsored post. Copyright 2022. Featured article by Mike Parkes of GoSimpleTax - tax return software that can help you manage your self assessment.

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