This commentary is an initial view from BASDA and may be subject to change following more detailed consideration and additional information such as Guidance Notes and the Draft Legislation which will be published in the next few weeks.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) live in April 2019 for Companies with Turnover over £85,000

Principle is to ensure that companies maintain their accounting records in real-time i.e. a VAT return ties in with the accounting records and it effectively removes the ability to ‘manipulate’ VAT returns outside of a software system.

MTD is a key focus area for BASDA, and we recently met HMRC to discuss MTD for VAT and put forward member challenges and shared ‘real world issues’ in managing and sending VAT data from variable stakeholders and scenarios; also exploring suitable audit trails where adjustments are made. A collaborative and informed meeting and commitment from HMRC to continue to engage further on this topic, with a set of agreed actions going forward to best ensure VAT MTD is fit for purpose.

No Change in VAT Threshold

Concerns that over 1 million British small businesses faced being brought into VAT if the government accepted the Office of Tax Simplification’s VAT reform recommendations were allayed when the Chancellor left the VAT threshold at £85,000.

A number of BASDA members shared such concerns for had the VAT threshold of been lowered [per budget speculation following the recent OTS report] then this would have put a lot more pressure upon the software industry to support MTD for VAT and so affecting many, many more businesses, and in a relatively short space of time.

VAT Fraud in Labour Provision in the Construction Sector

Following a consultation into options for tackling fraud in construction labour supply chains, the government will introduce a VAT domestic reverse charge to prevent VAT losses. This will shift responsibility for paying VAT along the supply chain to remove the opportunity for it to be stolen. Changes will have effect on and after 1 October 2019. The long lead-time reflects responses to the consultation and the government’s commitment to give businesses adequate time to prepare for the change.

BASDA participated heavily in the consultation on this earlier this year and submitted a formal response opposing the introduction of a VAT Reverse Charge for the construction sector while offering advice on how to mitigate the impact if it was to be introduced.  HMRC contacted BASDA together with other key stakeholders on the day of the budget offering a meeting in December to start detailed consultation on implementation of this measure.  BASDA will collaborate with HMRC and the construction sector to help make the implementation as smooth as possible.  The positive outcome from the earlier consultation is that the timescale for introduction is longer than it otherwise would have been.

The World’s First National Advisory Body for Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will set standards for the use and ethics of AI and data. This will allow the UK to lead the world in developing practical uses for the technology.

The support of the Government in the development of AI and robotics will radically change the traditional ways of how businesses operate.  The need for our members to continue to embrace technology and develop new software systems and applications and be progressive is now more important than ever.

Productivity – a Long Term Challenge

Could the Chancellor have done more to address the issue of productivity during his UK Budget address?  The Office for Budget Responsibility’s latest forecast was quoted, which revised down expectations for productivity and growth. Disappointingly the downgrade in productivity is expected to continue with growth revised down by an average of 0.7% a year up to 2023.

At BASDA we believe one of the most effective ways for UK businesses to increase productivity is for them to ensure that they are fully harnessing the benefits that business software bring in regard to efficiency and effectiveness gains. Such benefits are also fully realised when such systems are both kept up to date and enhanced with the relevant value-adds available. Business software continues to rapidly evolve to meet continually emerging market and technological developments.

Building an Economy Fit for the Future

Our members welcome the vision of the Chancellor for a UK economy driven by innovation that will see it becoming a world leader in new and emerging technologies, creating better paid and highly skilled jobs.

If you are not already a member of BASDA and would like more information on how to become one, click here for more information on how to join.