How the UK government aspires to be like Estonia ...

How the UK government aspires to be like Estonia

Estonia: a small country in Northern Europe and 2001 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.  Ask someone what they know about Estonia and after a minute of head scratching, a few ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’, and the above might be their inevitable response.

However, the UK government has realised there is actually a lot more to learn from this Baltic country than writing a catchy pop song.  Since the early 1990s, Estonia has been leading the way as a modern digital government, recently being named ‘The most advanced digital society in the world’ by specialist tech magazine Wired.

It’s no wonder the UK government is aspiring to be more like Estonia.

So what has made this country of just 1.3 million people a leader in digital government?
With a small, declining population and few natural resources, the post-Soviet government ministers recognised the future was a digital-rich economy.  They focused on investing in the IT sector and digitally connecting government services.

Cloud Based Accountancy Services...

The days of paper based accounts are, thankfully, becoming a thing of the past. As is the idea of storing your accounts on one central computer, praying and hoping that your hard drive isn’t corrupted from an accidentally opened link.

Cloud based accountancy is the perfect antidote to these risks of the past; safe, secure and above all incredibly convenient. It’s a platform that allows you to access data and software online; anytime, anywhere. As long as your device has an internet connection, your small business can stay connected to its data, and to your accountant, 24/7.

Utilising small business software that isn’t available via the cloud can place a huge burden on your business. It requires careful calculations and the devotion of a great deal of time. In contrast, the cloud saves both time and money, thanks to the speed with which it works and the automation of important processes. 

With HMRC planning to ‘Make Tax Digital’, it makes sense that cloud based accountancy should be the way forward. It’s important more than ever that we deal with up-to-date information that is accurate. The cloud guarantees this. 

Entering the world of cloud accounting without any background knowledge or experience of how it works can be a little daunting. You needn’t feel like you are an explorer uncovering something extraordinary however, as we are here to take you through everything you need to know. 

We have the ability and tools to deliver professional cloud services to businesses across every sector. We can outline the benefits of the cloud, and provide you support as you adapt to the changes. 

More on Making Tax Digital - The Consultation...

Making Tax Digital

First online banking, shopping, socialising and learning became irreplaceable additions to our everyday lives. Now, it seems, is the turn of online taxes with HMRC announcing their plans to Make Tax Digital last year proclaiming the benefit in allowing individuals and businesses the chance to manage their tax affairs online, in between uploading Instagram posts and shopping on amazon.

Digital?  When is this happening?

A consultation period started on the 15th August 2016 and will finish on the 7th November 2016. The aim of this is to establish opinions on HMRC’s Making Tax Digital Programme, and the production of six consultation documents.

Six! What are they about?

Should Making Tax Digital be delayed?...

I was reading an interesting article bemoaning the pressure that Making Tax Digital is causing and one of the statistics quoted was " HMRC would see a huge spike in conversion to the new processes between April 2018 and April 2019, with taxpayers having to make the changeover at a rate of more than 1 every 9 seconds, day and night..."

By inference it was saying that no one will cope and the whole system would be under too much pressure so we should delay the deadline date for at least a year.  But why would this help?

I know that many accountants and their business clients would simply breathe a sigh of relief and not do anything until the deadline was close enough to spur them into action.  That's human nature.  So instead of facing the pressure in 2018-19 they would face it in 2019-20 and not be any better prepared.

I have been speaking to my clients about the benefits of cloud accounting since we started using Kashflow in 2008.  Today we can offer support on most of the major cloud accounting players including Xero, QuickBooks and SageOne and these suppliers expect to be ready for Making Tax Digital by April 2018.  So the demands for a delay are not coming from them.

But I'm only a Landlord - surely I won't need to submit 4 tax returns a year?...

But I’m only a Landlord – surely I won’t need to submit 4 tax returns a year?

The idea behind Making Tax Digital is HMRC becoming part of the digital age and that will mean fundamental changes to the tax system to make it “more effective, more efficient and easier for tax payers.”
So all tax payers will have a digital tax account…there will be 50 million of them.  Third parties will be able to automatically fill them with details of your income.  So for example income from employers, pensions and even banks will be automatically fed into your Digital Tax Account.  However the missing link is that only you or your accountant representing you knows how much you are earning from your business and that includes rental income for landlords.   So the obvious solution is that you will be forced to provide details of any income (and expenses) which cannot be auto-filled on a quarterly basis.
So the media has commentated on the impact on small self-employed people who will have to keep their accounts in a digital form (not on excel), but the impact on landlords appears to have been forgotten.  Landlords will also have to submit “quarterly summarized information” but we still don’t know in exactly what format this summarized information will take.

How do I prepare for this?