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Reflecting on changes to the tax landscape

Rebecca Benneyworth considers some April changes that provide food for thought. She discusses, among other things, Making Tax Digital, increases in staff costs and the ‘sorry saga’ of the controversial loan charge legislation.

TaxApril 2019 brings a number of changes to the tax landscape. And maybe a chance to reflect on developments, good and bad.

First, Making Tax Digital (MTD), which is a major project of reform intended to encompass huge parts of the tax administration landscape over the next few years. It is unveiled in April with the commencement of the VAT element of the proposals, which includes a statutory requirement for affected businesses to keep digital records and file their VAT returns using HMRC-approved software. As MTD for VAT has drawn closer HMRC has taken a pragmatic approach to what is achievable for both businesses and software providers. HMRC’s acceptance that spreadsheets can be used to prepare digital records, and the minimal requirements over specific data items, have meant that most businesses that are mandated will be able to comply with limited extra costs. But of course these are larger businesses, by definition turning over at least £85,000 a year. They are likely to be more sophisticated and many have some digital records already.