The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is calling for the Government to postpone its plans for the introduction of “Making Tax Digital” which will require the digital recording and submission of VAT returns from 1 April 2019.
This follows a recent report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee which was highly critical of HMRC for neglecting its responsibility to support small businesses with Making Tax Digital.
TFA chief executive, George Dunn, said: “The simple truth is that we are nowhere near ready for the roll-out of Making Tax Digital and it has got to be postponed. Our own discussions with accountants working with farm businesses support these conclusions. We had been told, HMRC would release information about exemptions to the scheme by November, but nothing has been communicated. The patchy digital infrastructure across many rural areas means farmers are still struggling to access stable and secure internet. Of the farmers and small businesses who are online, many are struggling to get to grips with the leading accredited software solutions, finding them difficult to use.”
The TFA has joined with other farming and rural organisations in writing to the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the House of Commons Treasury Committee, to ask her to call Treasury Ministers to appear before her Committee to answer criticisms set out within the House of Lords report.
“We have received reports of farm businesses going to desperate lengths to get access to digital connections. For example, some are using the free, unsecure Wi-Fi available in cafés and some fast food restaurants to conduct day-to-day transactions with HMRC and other Government Departments. Given that these networks are public and lack good security, this is simply unacceptable. Unless or until we have adequate digital coverage for all rural areas, we will need easy to access exemptions from the requirement to file information digitally. Having denied many areas this digital connectivity, it will also take time to ensure that individuals are able to use online tools confidently to carry out required tasks,” said Mr Dunn.
“It is disappointing that we are having to make a call for postponement as we see the benefits of the policy being pursued by the Government. However, it must be implemented considerately and fairly to ensure that it does not levy an unreasonable impact on farm businesses,” said Mr Dunn.