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This week's opinion

29 January 2019 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4681 / Categories: Comment & Analysis

We need a coherent vision for the role of technology

I was struck by the quote in Jeremy Cape’s article on page 8: ‘By international standards, the UK’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) project is characterised by limited ambition, extended delay and problematic implementation.’

Many readers will, I imagine, raise an eyebrow at the thought that HMRC’s ambition for MTD is limited. After all, even the limited form of MTD which is about to be introduced is seen by many advisers as too much too soon. But I am sure Jeremy is right. MTD has lost its way and it is difficult to see the benefits it will to bring to taxpayers and HMRC. It shouldn’t be like this. HMRC is right to look at how digitalisation can transform the tax system for everybody and I still believe that. You have only to look at the latest OTS report ( to see some of the imaginative uses of technology.

There is no point in stopping the MTD for VAT changes coming in this year: people have invested time and money in preparing for these. But we then need a new approach. A group of senior people in government, the profession, industry and the charitable sector should be appointed to produce a coherent vision for the future role of digital technology in tax. From that, operational plans and timetables could be drawn up that would have the support of all involved. I am convinced this is achievable and that it would bring benefits to all. Without it I fear we will end up with a half-baked system in which nobody believes rather than one we should aspire to: a tax administration system that is fit for purpose in the modern world.

If you do one thing…

If you are reading this that probably means that you have submitted all your tax returns. Well done! Why not take a few minutes to think about nominating somebody for the new outstanding achievement award – see

Andrew Hubbard

Issue: 4681 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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