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Since March this year, self-employed individuals have had the option of reporting their income digitally to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as part of a pilot of the Government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) programme.
The Government has long had the ambition of taking most taxes including Income Tax, VAT and Corporation Tax onto a system of quarterly reporting using ‘designated software packages’ under the auspices of MTD.
However, the scheme was delayed repeatedly, with the relevant provisions of the Finance Bill being removed ahead of last year’s snap general election to ensure its safe passage through Parliament before voters headed to the polls.
Initial plans to introduce MTD for VAT on a mandatory basis in April of this year were ultimately pushed back to April 2019 and it is not yet known when MTD will become mandatory for other taxes.
HMRC has now opened up a limited test of MTD for Income Tax to all self-employed individuals and it is expected that the trial will be opened to all unincorporated landlords as well at some point this month.
However, with software providers concentrating their efforts on preparing for the start of MTD for VAT next year, there are currently just two packages supporting MTD for Income Tax, something that is likely to put off many self-employed individuals in the short term.