Government should take ‘primary responsibility’ for Making Tax Digital, says ATT

The Government has been urged to take ‘primary responsibility’ for Making Tax Digital (MTD) in terms of raising awareness of potential cyber-crime and assisting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) with clearer compliance information.

The comments come from the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) amidst fears that making MTD mandatory from April 2018 will cause a catalogue of financial and administrative complications for smaller firms.

Earlier this month, Mike Cherry, policy director at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), warned that MTD was “creating a perfect storm” for SMEs. He suggested that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) should consider “a revised deadline of 2025” for the game-changing MTD project.

Now, the ATT has raised further concerns that HMRC’s speedy approach to MTD will throw smaller firms into unfamiliar territory too quickly – and leave many vulnerable to cyber-crime threats.

Yvette Nunn, Co-chair of ATT’s Technical Steering Group, said: “There are real practical concerns about the security risks and the potential for businesses becoming victims of cyber-crime.

“If taxpayers who are running businesses have to use their phones or laptops to keep details of all their business transactions, there is a major risk of data being accessed maliciously.

“Our experience suggests that many businesses are not sufficiently cyber-savvy. They are unprepared for having to keep their data safe in a digital world.

“Forcing people down the digital route when they are unprepared for it could be putting them at the highest risk of being targeted by cyber-crime and fraud.

“We believe that if HMRC is taking away the element of choice from a taxpayer over how they keep their business records and whether they engage digitally with HMRC, it needs to take the primary responsibility for educating taxpayers on cyber security.”