Two-year delay to Making Tax Digital

he government has decided to extend the time businesses have to prepare for the transition to Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA). The mandatory use of software is now being phased in from April 2026, rather than April 2024. This has been brought about because the self-employed and landlords are currently facing a challenging economic environment, and the transition represents a significant change to taxpayers and HMRC for how self-employment and property income is reported.

From April 2026, self-employed individuals and landlords with an income of more than £50,000 will be required to keep digital records and provide quarterly updates on their income and expenditure to HMRC through MTD-compatible software. Those with an income of between £30,000 and £50,000 will need to do this from April 2027. Most customers will be able to join voluntarily beforehand meaning they can eliminate common errors and save time managing their tax affairs.

The government has also announced a review into the needs of smaller businesses, and particularly those under the £30,000 income threshold. The review will consider how MTD for ITSA can be shaped to meet the needs of these smaller businesses and the best way for them to fulfil their Income Tax obligations. It will also inform the approach for any further roll out of MTD for ITSA after April 2027.

Mandation of MTD for ITSA will not be extended to general partnerships in 2025 as previously announced. The government remains committed to introducing MTD for ITSA to partnerships in line with its vision set out in the government’s tax administration strategy.

Victoria Atkins, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “It is right to take the time to work together to maximise the benefits of Making Tax Digital for small businesses by implementing the change gradually. It is important to ensure this works for everyone: taxpayers, tax agents, software developers, as well as HMRCSmaller businesses in particular should be able to experience the benefits of increased digitalisation of Income Tax in a way which meets their needs. That is why we are also today announcing a review to establish the best way to achieve this.”

Jim Harra, Chief Executive and First Permanent Secretary, HM Revenue and Customs, said: “HMRC remains committed to the delivery of Making Tax Digital as a critical part of our strategy for digitalising and modernising the tax system, but we want to make sure we get this right and deliver it effectively.

“A phased approach to mandating MTD for Income Tax will allow us to work together with our partners to make sure that our self-employed and landlord customers can make the most of the opportunities this will bring.”

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Praveen Gupta, left, Partner & National Head of Tax at Azets, believes SMEs  should press ahead with digitalisation plans anyway. He said: “Confirmation of the government’s decision to further delay the introduction of Making Tax Digital only adds to the unrelenting uncertainty faced by SME business owners and entrepreneurs over the two years, at a time when much needed stability has been promised.

“By delaying MTD until 2026, digitalisation could now simply fall down the priority list of busy business owners, many of whom are purely focused on fighting the next fire and do not have the resource to plan long-term. We wholeheartedly support the move to digital accounting. However, the launch of MTD has been chaotic from the start and there is little evidence to suggest this will improve over the next two years, during which time there will be a general election.

“Our advice to business owners is to continue with digitalisation plans, despite the potential for further delays. Adopting accounting technology has enormous benefits in that it provides critical real time information, and doing so well in advance of MTD coming into effect will help you smooth the process before it becomes mandatory.”

The announcement relates to MTD for ITSA only. Making Tax Digital for VAT has already been implemented and is demonstrating the benefits to businesses and the tax system of digital ways of working.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024