Why work with Government and industry competition?
There’s a certain gravitas when meeting in a Government building. Its redolent of standing in the British Library, not only in surroundings, but the ages of opinion which leaves a contemporary mustiness from decades of discussion. Amidst the grandeur, the invitation and opportunity to meet with Finance Secretary to the Treasury, Mel Stride last week provided key insights and thinking from HMRC.
Along with IRIS, the 20-strong meeting included representatives from HMRC, the CBI, DAG, ICEAW, Sage, Intuit, and Xero. The purpose of the meeting was to identify how HRMC can work to ensure businesses maximise the opportunities as we digitise the economy.
The input from the room was passionate and there’s genuine commitment to Making Tax Digital (MTD). This wasn’t just from a tax perspective but the wider context as to how we make the UK businesses digital. We all agreed there is still much work to do, but digital transformation will provide many opportunities for accountancy practices and advisors.
It might seem both surprising and reassuring the software providers want collaboration to solve the problems on this journey; we all work closely with HMRC but to make the UK truly digital, we must collaborate across the industry. And there is appetite, whether from the tax authority or the FSB – the unswerving mission is to make the UK economy more successful.
Industry collaborations will enable businesses of all sizes to adopt the digital journey, and from my understanding, HMRC, software suppliers and industry bodies need to unify to ensure customers, HMRC’s tax payers and agents are fully informed as we lead up to the April 2019 MTD for VAT legislation. Our partnerships allow us to work more closely with influencers and policy makers to help HMRC provide a service that works as intended, enables productivity, facilitates collaboration and provides insight for businesses to connect and serve an increasingly new generation of customers.
However, this journey won’t be without bumps in the road: I was disappointed with HMRC’s perceived lack of empathy for software providers, there was little understanding as to the level of research and development all providers have committed to over the last 12 months and the significance of our impact.
We are also concerned with the MTD slow down and even now, HMRC won’t commit to further legislation until MTD for VAT is successful, which will be post April 2019. The clarion call was to continue legislation as soon as possible. MTD is the centre piece of the digital economy in our industry and it needs to be at the forefront of HMRC’s agenda.
HMRC must also stand loud and proud. There has been good progress to date, and they must continue to clearly communicate to us, not just to highlight business benefits but share strategic and policy direction, such as publishing roadmaps and communicate tactical issues. Continued transparency across the industry will drive progress and help liberate time, talent and energy of UK businesses, enabling them stay one-step-ahead of their competition.
And progress has started. We’ve seen evidence this week with the first quarterly filing submission in the MTD programme - and by an IRIS accountant, Rowleys Chartered Accountants - which is a great proof point for digital transformation and the MTD programme.
The meeting demonstrated there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m delighted IRIS has a voice to represent accountants and businesses as well as an opportunity to work with Government and other industry stakeholders.
But we also need your views as we progress.
Whoever your provider is, talk to them. Whether it’s a problem with your digital transformation, a new way of working with customers or an idea you think will help the digital journey become more frictionless – we need your opinion, experiences and ideas.
There’s a way for your voice to be heard at the top of the MTD table. Don’t sit back and wait for this to happen, get in the middle of the debate and make your opinion known.