Five million already using PTAs, but is MTD too much for HMRC?

FIVE million taxpayers are now using digital personal tax accounts (PTA) as part of the making tax digital strategy, HMRC said.

The Personal Tax Account (PTA), launched December 2015, can be accessed at any time and shows the development of HMRC’s Making Tax Digital plans, away from phone and paper formats.

James Hender, head of private wealth at Saffery Champness, commented, “Making tax digital is requiring significant resources that HMRC doesn’t have, it’s little wonder that the implementation date for some SMEs has already been pushed back to 2019, with possible further delays. With so much up in the air at HMRC we are already starting to see things fall through the gaps, with several key policies struggling to emerge from the long grass.”

Services online so far include; receiving an income tax estimate, tax code estimate, filing tax returns, claiming tax refunds (within 3-5 days), managing tax credits, and checking state pensions, marriage allowances, work benefits, car details and medical insurance.

Lucy Brennan, partner at Saffery Champness, added: “There is, frankly, a real risk that the taxman has bitten off more than he can chew. The situation we find ourselves in with HMRC has largely been driven by the impacts of cost cutting. Concerns have been raised by the National Audit Office and others about HMRC’s ability to deliver on promises such as simultaneously scaling back expense, introducing new digital systems and maintaining service delivery.”

Hender added: “For instance, the much-needed guidance around the proposed reforms to the non-dom regime has been severely lacking. In August we saw yet another consultation and some draft legislation, but this leaves precious little time for HMRC to address any concerns and finalise a new rulebook in time for April’s implementation date. Of course, this has a knock on effect for taxpayers who are looking down the barrel of still more uncertainty.”

Brennan concluded, “Introducing new processes and systems to deter avoidance and improve efficiency are of course welcome, but these will all entail a teething process. An under-resourced HMRC may struggle to both lead the charge into a modern tax world while maintaining the ability to put out any fires stoked along the way.”

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