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ATT calls on HMRC to delay quarterly digital reporting

The Association of Taxing Technicians (ATT) has called on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to delay the planned introduction of quarterly digital reporting, citing the ‘huge’ embarrassment that would occur if the project were to go wrong.

HMRC recently announced that it was delaying the planned consultation on digital tax accounts until after the EU referendum on 23 June and the ATT has asked for the project as a whole to be delayed for at least another year.

Concerns have been raised that a delay could truncate the consultation process, especially given the fact that beta tests for the quarterly system are set to begin in July, with tax advisers expected to manage their clients' online presence from December.

It’s planned for the new online tax system to eventually replace annual tax returns and if so it will be adopted by millions of individuals and businesses around the UK.  Making the tax process digital is just part of a substantial new overhaul that will allow HMRC to invest £1.3bn into the digital landscape.

The ATT has already predicted that the Government will end up issuing all five consultations in one go with simultaneous deadlines in order to stick to the goal of launching a public testing phase by April 2017.  Many professionals believe that this will limit the time interested parties have to respond to each one with the necessary thought and that details will be lost as a result: this is a concern for a system that will have such a fundamental impact on the UK’s tax system.

Yvette Nunn, the co-chair for the ATT Technical Steering Group, noted that it was ‘imperative’ the Government and HMRC handle the new situation correctly.

A number of tax advisers have already raised their concerns about the digital system, noting the potential for it to turn into another ‘failed IT project’.

“Whilst we can understand the decision by ministers to delay the issue of the consultations until after the EU referendum, we strongly believe that HMRC needs to recognise the impact of this delay by revising the timetable for implementation by at least one year," said Nunn.

“This would then allow the consultations to be released in phases, with staggered submission deadlines, to allow more consideration of all of the issues.”

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