HMRC light touch approach over digital switch failings

19 Aug 2019

calculator and paperwork

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said earlier in the year that it would adopt a light touch approach over imposing fines for businesses failing to file on time with the switch to the new Making Tax Digital (MTD) system for VAT. It has lived up to its word, with no fines being issued for some 120,000 businesses quoted as having missed the August tax deadline.

HMRC has now said that it will also continue to show leniency in the face of a possible no-deal Brexit.

Sean McGinness, a VAT Partner and a member of Saffery Champness’ Landed Estates and Rural Business Group, said:

“An estimated one in four VAT registered businesses has so far failed to comply with the new online filing rules that came into effect in April. HMRC estimates that 490,000 VAT registered businesses with sales above the VAT threshold of £85,000 should have been filing under the new system by 7 August. However, it is known that there have been a number of difficulties encountered with the new system, and higher than average calls to an overworked HMRC helpline by concerned taxpayers struggling to make their returns on time.

“The leniency of HMRC in this instance is appreciated, as is the announcement last week that its light touch approach will continue until a possible no-deal Brexit deadline has passed.

“Businesses should not however take this as a green light to do nothing and must continue to file and pay their VAT. Penalties for non-payment can be up to 15% of the VAT liability due and HMRC will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to recover unpaid tax where it is being withheld rather than for any difficulties in making the switch to the new digital regime.”