HMRC defends Making Tax Digital timescale at House of Lords

Taxpayers, businesses and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) alike will “learn very quickly” from the Government’s year-long Making Tax Digital (MTD) pilot scheme, which will be phased in from April this year.

The comments come from Jim Harra, director general for customer strategy and tax design at HMRC, who defended MTD yesterday before the House of Lords Finance Bill Sub-Committee.

According to reports, the civil servants behind HMRC’s digital tax reforms have said that the Revenue’s recent consultations into the matter were “the richest [they have ever] seen the department have,” and that forthcoming trials will iron out any issues in good time.

HMRC representatives denied previous claims put forward by the House of Commons Treasury Committee that the project’s timeline – which will see landlords and sole traders required to report to the Revenue with quarterly digital updates from April 2018 onwards – was “wholly unrealistic” and over-ambitious.

Mr Harra insisted that the department, and MTD users alike, would “learn very quickly” from a year-long pilot scheme due to be opened up to around 400,000 people this April.

His sentiment was echoed by Making Tax Digital programme manager Theresa Middleton, who said that HMRC would have “much more confidence” in the plans, and would have addressed any shortcomings, long before MTD is phased in as mandatory.