Press release: Digital tax deferral offers chance to Make Tax Doable, says new ATT President

The new President of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has welcomed the government’s decision to relax the timetable for digitalisation of the tax system,1 and offered its help in making the new regime more ‘doable’ for taxpayers.

Graham Batty will make the call as he takes office at today’s Annual General Meeting of the ATT this afternoon. The ATT’s leadership team for the next 12 months will be:

President – Graham Batty
Deputy President – Tracy Easman
Vice President – Jeremy Coker

Speaking in his presidential inaugural address, Graham Batty will say of the MTD announcement:

“This is extremely welcome news.

“ATT and other bodies have consistently recognised the potential benefits of MTD but we have at the same time warned that the over-hasty introduction of compulsory digital record keeping and quarterly reporting could jeopardise the realisation of those benefits.

“HMRC now have an opportunity to consider carefully how MTD might best be phased in. The deferral creates an opening for large-scale voluntary testing of MTD, followed by a proper evaluation of outcomes, so that the programme has the greatest possible chance of succeeding.

“Tax professionals must grasp the opportunity to work with HMRC to devise a version of MTD that is visibly ‘doable’ and works for their clients, the Exchequer and themselves. Many of our members have been gearing up for the introduction of MTD from April 2018. It is essential that HMRC harnesses that energy. It is also essential that HMRC has an adequate budget for a sustained publicity campaign to explain how and when MTD will be introduced and how businesses can prepare. Very few businesses currently understand the impact which the MTD obligations will have on them.

“The ATT stands ready to work with HMRC in order not just to make tax digital, but to make tax doable.”

Graham Batty will also highlight the ATT’s expansion of its technical capacity, saying this will enable the Association to expand its scrutiny role:

“We also work to support, and dare I say educate, government, often at the highest level, with our technical team scrutinising new legislation, responding to consultations, pointing out anomalies and acting as a robust critical friend. I am delighted that in the last few weeks we have been able to expand our technical team to three technical officers, further enhancing our ability to respond, to scrutinise and to engage with government at all levels.”

Additionally he will encourage ATT members to let the Association know “about the issues and problems you face in day to day practice so that we can identify common themes and work with HMRC to deal with these”. And he encouraged employers to “let us know what you want from our qualifications so that we can continue to make them more relevant”.


Notes for editors

1. The Government announced today that:

  • only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will have to keep digital records and only for VAT purposes
  • they will only need to do so from 2019
  • businesses will not be asked to keep digital records, or to update HMRC quarterly, for other taxes until at least 2020

Making Tax Digital will be available on a voluntary basis for the smallest businesses, and for other taxes. This means that businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold will be able to choose when to move to the new digital system.

HMRC will start to pilot MTDfB for VAT by the end of this year, starting with small-scale, private testing, followed by a wider, live pilot starting in Spring 2018. This will allow for well over a year of testing before any businesses are mandated to use the system.

More information: here

2. Graham Batty

Graham is an Associate Director at RSM, specialising in the taxation of charities and other not for profit bodies. He became a member of the ATT in 2005, joined the Association’s Council in 2012 and was appointed a Fellow in 2015. He served as ATT Vice President 2015-16 and Deputy President 2016-17. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1983 and became a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation in 1986. He is a former Chair of both the Leeds and Birmingham & West Midlands branches of ATT/CIOT.

Short biographies of Tracy Easman, Jeremy Coker and other ATT Council members are available at https://www.att.org.uk/council

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