Spring Statement 2018 Business Tax

Making Tax Digital for Business: VAT

HMRC is phasing in its landmark Making Tax Digital (MTD) regime, which will ultimately require taxpayers to move to a fully digital tax system. Regulations have now been issued which set out the requirements for MTD for VAT. Under the new rules, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) must keep digital records for VAT purposes and provide their VAT return information to HMRC using MTD functional compatible software.

The new rules have effect from 1 April 2019, where a taxpayer has a ‘prescribed accounting period’ which begins on that date, and otherwise from the first day of a taxpayer’s first prescribed accounting period beginning after 1 April 2019.

HMRC is piloting MTD for VAT during 2018, ahead of its introduction in April 2019.

Keeping digital records and making quarterly updates will not be mandatory for taxes other than VAT before April 2020, although businesses below the VAT threshold which have voluntarily registered for VAT can opt to join the scheme.

As with electronic VAT filing at present, there will be some exemptions from MTD for VAT. However, the exemption categories are tightly-drawn and unlikely to be applicable to most VAT registered businesses.

Comment

Keeping digital records will not mean businesses are mandated to use digital invoices and receipts but the actual recording of supplies made and received must be digital. It is likely that third party commercial software will be required. Software will not be available from HMRC. The use of spreadsheets will be allowed, but they will have to be combined with add-on software to meet HMRC’s requirements.

In the long run, HMRC is still looking to a scenario where income tax updates are made quarterly and digitally, and this is really what the VAT provisions anticipate.

Corporation tax rates

Corporation tax rates have already been enacted for periods up to 31 March 2021.

The main rate of corporation tax is currently 19%. The rate for future years is:

  • 19% for the Financial Years beginning on 1 April 2018 and 1 April 2019
  • 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.

Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions (NICs)

Class 2 NICs will be abolished from April 2019. The Chancellor confirmed in March 2017 that there will be no increases to Class 4 NICs rates in this Parliament.

VAT registration threshold: call for evidence

The government considers that the current design of the VAT registration threshold may be dis-incentivising small businesses from growing their business and improving their productivity. The Office of Tax Simplification had previously recommended that the government examine the current approach to the VAT threshold.

This call for evidence will explore the effect of the current threshold on small businesses. Different policy options will be considered and whether these options could better incentivise growth.