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Relief for sole traders as tax changes are delayed

28 September 2021

The government has announced that Making Tax Digital for Income Tax will now be introduced in April 2024 - a year after it was originally scheduled to start.

Businesses and sole traders will have an extra year to prepare for the next stage of Making Tax Digital - for income tax self assessment - as HMRC has said it recognises the challenges facing UK businesses and wants to give them more time to get ready.

It means that Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA) will now be mandated for businesses and landlords with a business income over £10,000 per annum in the tax year beginning in April 2024. Simple partnerships will not be required to join MTD for ITSA until the tax year beginning in April 2025.

Lucy Frazer, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: "The digital tax system we are building will be more efficient, make it easier for customers to get tax right, and bring wider benefits in increased productivity. But we recognise that, as we emerge from the pandemic, it's critical that everyone has enough time to prepare for the change, which is why we're giving people an extra year to do so."

Eligible businesses and landlords will have the opportunity to sign up to the pilot, which is already underway and will be gradually expanded during the 2022 to 2023 tax year, ready for larger scale testing in the 2023 to 2024 tax year.

The delay has been welcomed by business groups. The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) described the delay as a "welcome breathing space" before "another painful hit to the self-employed".

IPSE has warned that many freelancers are not ready to make the shift to Making Tax Digital. Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE, said: "Although we can see the benefits of digital record-keeping, we continue to have reservations about certain aspects of the change. The shift to quarterly reporting will be a serious and heavy additional admin burden for many freelancers. We continue to call on government to raise the threshold for MTD so the changes do not apply to the smallest businesses."

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has also welcomed the delay. Martin McTague, FSB national vice chair, said: "It's very encouraging to see HMRC responding to our recommendations regarding the roll-out of MTD. With recovery efforts now underway, the previous schedule wouldn't have been the right way forward. This move will provide millions of sole traders with a measure of breathing space and some encouragement in a climate beset by spiralling energy costs, supply chain disruption and high levels of debt."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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