Making Tax Digital – too soon or just right?

By now we’re sure you’ve heard of the Government’s plan to make life harder for contractors who have a limited entity. With April’s 2016 changes still raw in everyone’s minds, many think the Government are rushing through changes too quickly (which doesn’t benefit anyone).

The contracting industry has voiced its opinion on the matter, as well as many industry experts from leading regulatory bodies. The rush to ‘go digital’ has already left a lot of contractors wondering how this is going to work. The fact of the matter is that the Government is going to push ahead anyway.

Amongst the key concerns raised is the frequency of how often self-employed contractors will have to complete their tax return. It’s once a year currently, but that is going to change to quarterly in 2017. That’s right, the ‘fun to do’ tax return you do once a year will have to be done 3 times a year. Now that wouldn’t be a major issue if it was as easy as filling in a form and sending it off, but we all know it’s not that simple. Even if you have an accountant, the fact that they will have to do it an additional 3 times could mean you end up with a cost that you wouldn’t have had to incur previously (and we all know accountants aren’t cheap!).

We know how easy it is to say ‘do everything online’, and that ‘everything in one digital place’ sounds great in principal, but the major issue lies in the execution (or launch) of this digital tax software. Technology can be our worst enemy sometimes (honestly, we all blame technology at least once per day) so the thought that you could be 45 minutes into doing your return online when your internet goes down, the website crashes, you accidentally close the web window or a whole host of other potential ‘tech faults’ will be more than enough to drive most people insane.

The other side of the coin
We could be wrong though. Making tax online could eliminate late/missed submissions and generally make it easier to track and set reminders for when it needs to be done. The fact that 3.2 billion people in the world have access to the internet and 1 in 4 have a smartphone, the likelihood is that everyone will soon be sorting their life from the palm of their hand (if they aren’t already). Look at the rate at which not only business has evolved digitally, but also the way our lives have dramatically changed through the use of cloud-based systems and software.

Need to transfer money from one account to another? No problem, a few clicks on your mobile and your money has gone to where you want it to go. Need something delivered? Just select a courier online and they’ll pick it up for you. The shift in doing everyday activities ‘on the move’ has increased tenfold, to the point where you’d probably get an odd look from your family and friends if you said you’re off to rent a DVD from the rentals store, or you’re off to check if a department store has a certain item in stock.

There’s no doubt technology can benefit us in lots of ways (being able to order our favourite takeaway in less than two clicks is definitely high on our list) but it needs to be delivered properly and most importantly, used correctly by those who need to use it.