Full steam ahead for MTD as HMRC reveals pilot extension

By James Nadal | 11th January 2019 | 14 min read

There was an important piece of news yesterday (10 January) that emerged from HMRC, which strongly suggests that progress on the Making Tax Digital pilot is well advanced and we’re very much on track for the implementation date.

The trial has been extended, meaning that all businesses mandated to use the MTD service from April are now able to access the pilot.

Restrictions lifted

When the pilot first went public only certain types of business could join, so it was not open to firms based overseas, partnerships, those submitting annual returns, those making VAT payments on account and so on. But these restrictions have now been lifted.

The pilot has also been opened up to groups to allow them to start testing the service, even though they will not be mandated until October 2019.

It’s worth noting, however, that the news has no impact on the six-month deferral for complex businesses, which still stands.

Sign ups flooding in

The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) commented on the announcement, saying the expansion showed that the pilot is so far going well, with over 3,500 businesses already joining and the number of daily sign-ups now exceeding 100.

It’s also further evidence for any sceptics, who might have been anticipating more delays, that you really need to get your skates on and can’t afford to hang around.

IRIS 5 steps to success

The good news is that IRIS has launched its new MTD 5 steps to success programme, which breaks down the necessary work accountants need to do into easier chunks to help them take advantage of the opportunities MTD offers.

Our programme drills down into the essential questions that accountants must ask of their practices and then answer, setting out the core issues that must be addressed before the April deadline.

'Significant milestone'

We asked HMRC about the move to extend the pilot and in response, it sent a statement from Clare Sheehan, Head of Customer Readiness for Making Tax Digital.

She said: “The Making Tax Digital pilot is now available to all businesses who will need to use the service from April. This marks a significant milestone towards our delivery of a modern tax administration.

“We encourage all eligible businesses to join and try out the service before they are mandated to use it.”

The AAT welcomed the move, saying that it makes sense for firms to join the pilot now, so they can check any teething problems with the system and to train up all relevant staff without any fear or concern of consequences.