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This week's opinion: 27 August 2020

26 August 2020 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4758 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Hopes for a more open approach to MTD

The tone of financial secretary Jesse Norman’s recent speech to the ICAEW at its annual conference ( was notable for two reasons. The first was the acknowledgement that the way HMRC has coped with the coronavirus crisis has given it a new confidence that it will be able to cope with the challenges which will be thrown at it in the months and years to come. The word resilience had a prominence that I do not recall hearing in previous speeches. 

The other was what seemed a more genuinely open approach to how making tax digital (MTD) might develop in the future. Many of us, though supportive of the principle, became frustrated with the mixed messaging from HMRC about the project’s underlying aims and what appeared to be a lack of willingness to engage with the profession and taxpayers in a meaningful way about how the programme would be developed. The new timescales give us more scope to work properly through what a digital-first approach to tax administration could look like and the advantages it might bring to taxpayers, agents and HMRC alike. 

I know many Taxation readers are deeply cynical about the whole digital initiative – I understand that. What was really interesting in the speech was the comment that many businesses have opted into MTD despite not being compelled to join. If the benefits of MTD for income tax become obvious then the whole question of compulsion largely goes away. 

Let’s make that aspiration a key part of the next phase of the programme.

If you do one thing...

Read HMRC’s latest guidance – Revenue and Customs Brief 8/2020 – on the VAT treatment of supplies on hire purchase.

Issue: 4758 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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