Making Tax Digital uncertainty grows as HMRC cancel stakeholder event

UNCERTAINTY from the profession is growing towards HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project after the government department cancelled a stakeholder event that many believed would have announced the release date of the project’s consultation documents.

Newly appointed chief executive Jon Thompson and executive chair Edward Troup were expected to attend the stakeholder conference, but due to the turbulent political landscape, which has seen home secretary Theresa May named as the next prime minister, the government department has postponed the event.

“Political landscape has rapidly changed”

On 12th July, HMRC issued the following notice: “Following the early change of prime minister announced yesterday, HMRC’s executive leadership will need to be available to ministers at all times during the remainder of the week.

“Unfortunately, this means that we will have to postpone the HMRC Stakeholder Conference on Thursday 14 July. We’re sorry for the short notice and inconvenience, and we will be in touch with a new date as soon as we can.”

In regards to the overdue release of Making Tax Digital consultation documents, HMRC added: “The political landscape has rapidly changed this week. We currently intend to publish the MTD consultation documents in the summer but understandably it won’t be this week.”

Brian Palmer, tax policy adviser at the AAT is uncertain as to when the consultation documents will be released, stating that it is “a case of watch this space”.

“Sooner we clear the uncertainty the better”

Paul Aplin, partner at AC Mole and Sons and recently appointed ICAEW president, hopes that the documents will be released by HMRC as soon as possible.

“Things have been held up with the referendum and now we have some potential ministerial changes so things have been pushed back.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that we don’t have the consultation documents out now because without them it’s very difficult to get into the detail and move all this forward. There is a huge amount of detail that we need to get with grips with, the sooner we clear the uncertainty the better,” continued the ICAEW president.

In May, the government department delayed the consultation documents over its huge digital transformation project until after the EU referendum.

Concerns have been raised that such a delay could truncate the consultation process given that beta tests for the quarterly system are slated to commence in July, while advisers are supposed to be able to manage clients’ affairs from December.

Just days after HMRC announced the delay the ATT urged the department to delay the documents by at least a year, in order to avoid the ‘huge’ embarrassment to itself and the government if the project goes awry. In April, Treasury Select Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie expressed concerns over the burden the move would place on taxpayers – particularly businesses.

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