The government’s plans to digitalise the tax system and force business from April 2018 to make quarterly online returns have been dropped, due to the general election.

Top 40 accountants Bishop Fleming welcomed the move, claiming that it will now provide more time for the project to be properly scrutinised.

The controversial Making Tax Digital plans will require businesses to keep digital tax records and file updates four times a year with the tax office. The draft rules were part of Finance Bill 2017, currently making its way through Parliament.

However, with a general election on 8 June there was no time for Members of Parliament to discuss the new regime and so it had to be removed from the Finance Bill.

Bishop Fleming’s Head of Tax Andrew Browne commented: “It was clear that a great deal more scrutiny was needed before the Making Tax Digital project could proceed. The election allows Parliament pause for thought over the direction of travel on tax digitalisation and how best to reduce costs for businesses.”

Mr Browne added: “As there will now be a delay in bringing forward legislation to require businesses to make quarterly returns, I hope that the planned implementation date of April 2018 will also be delayed, to allow for the results of pilot exercises, and to allow time for the rules to be refined based on actual findings rather than just guesswork.”

Earlier this year Bishop Fleming called for a delay in Making Tax Digital as it appeared “too rushed” and “too unclear”. The firm endorsed a report from MPs on the Treasury Select Committee calling for a delay of at least one or two years to avoid “putting businesses at risk”.

Mr Browne remarked: “A time for reflection will result in much clearer and better thought through rules in due course to allow for a smoother digital tax revolution.”


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