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Are small businesses being let down by those they trust on Making Tax Digital?

As I’m sure is the case for many people involved in the accounting software industry the British Chamber of Commerce survey on Making Tax Digital (MTD) appeared in my LinkedIn feed earlier this week.

The article that accompanied the survey made the argument that because 24% of the 1,100 firms surveyed were unaware of MTD, then it should be delayed. HMRC have already delayed and modified the timetable several times in response to similar arguments in the past.

In common with a lot of MTD content, the article focused on the negative side. However what the report revealed is that 76% of the firms surveyed had heard of MTD, with 10% saying that they knew quite a lot about it. I’d say this is a pretty positive reflection of the work that many accountants have undertaken to educate and migrate clients to suitable software.

Based on my experience, the 10% who know a lot are likely to be working with one of the many accountants that focus on the positive impact that well-implemented technology (not just cloud accounting software) can have on small businesses.

Given the perhaps sub-optimal release of information by HMRC is it surprising that 66% of businesses who have heard of MTD say they don’t know anything about it.

Perhaps it’s time now for the focus around MTD to shift from lobbying for delays and move to look to better educate and inform small businesses about MTD and the many positive benefits that it can offer if adequately planned for and implemented.

For an excellent discussion of how the digitisation of tax is progressing in other countries, I’d recommend Richard Sergeant’s recent AccountingWeb article.

The main point that resonated with me from the BCC survey was the 10% of small businesses who have never heard of MTD need better information from trusted sources. The time for looking to create FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) has passed.

If you’re an accountant, who has put off talking to clients about MTD because you think it won’t happen or they won’t be able to cope with it, my advice would be to do a quick Google search and look at some of the great work that many accountants have undertaken with clients. I’m always happy to share my experiences working with some very progressive firms over the last five years over a coffee as well.

Get in touch.