The Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative is coming — and it has many small business owners feeling like they want to head for the hills.
The lack of concrete information on MTD has led to a lot of confusion and resistance in the world of small business. What we do know is that it is coming, and coming soon. As accountants, it’s our job to draw our clients back down from the hills and reassure them that, with the right preparation, MTD is really nothing to fear.
Quick reminder — what is MTD again?
Making Tax Digital is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin government initiative that aims to transform the tax system by making it fully digital. The goal is to make things clearer, easier and more efficient for taxpayers.
Why are so many business owners resistant to MTD?
It’s no great revelation that people fear change, particularly when it relates to new technology.
The fact that so many of the details of MTD are still vague doesn’t help. Add a generous sprinkle of political uncertainty to the mix and you have a recipe for confusion and suspicion. Rumours abound; you will have to complete four tax returns a year, you will have to pay tax four times a year, MTD will increase your workload, and you will have to spend a fortune on new accountancy software…it’s no wonder MTD has your clients running scared.
How to convince your clients it’s not as bad as it sounds:
First things first, do a bit of hand-holding.
Your clients need reassurance; you need to let them know that yes, the change is coming and that it’s no cause for alarm. Facing it head on and being prepared is the best course of action for their business.
Then get into some myth busting.
It is important to tackle the MTD myths and misunderstandings early on. Make sure your clients know that MTD isn’t going to bankrupt them or drastically increase their workload. Reassure them that they won’t have to file four tax returns a year, pay tax quarterly or have to navigate complex software.
Highlight the key benefits.
If we can push past the fear of change and look at the MTD initiative objectively, there’s actually a lot to be excited about. It’s our job to translate this for our clients.
No more tax return chaos
We all know what it’s like to deal with the stress and chaos that come from trying to make sense of 12 months worth of receipts, invoices and transactions. Submitting data quarterly will be so much more manageable for you and your clients. The use of an efficient software system, like Clear Books Micro, will cut down on the paperwork, making the process easier still.
The quarterly updates will allow you and your clients to keep track of their end of year tax bill. Not only will they be able to save accordingly, but they’ll know whether the time is right to reinvest in their business.
Having automated systems, with everything in the one place, should save your clients time and effort, allowing them to get on with the day-to-day running of their business.
Get the right software.
The biggest fear for many will be dealing with new software — particularly for those clients who are still attached to the receipt-in-shoebox or spreadsheet methods of accountancy. By familiarising yourself with the necessary software, you’ll be in a great position to convince your clients to start the MTD transition early.
Something like Clear Books Micro is ideal for those smaller clients; a simple spreadsheet that your clients can use to capture the basic accounting data, and which allows you to submit MTD returns to HMRC on their behalf with minimum fuss. Keeping the responsibility for finalising and making these submissions with the accountant protects and reinforces your position as the expert; the person who looks after your client’s best interest and ensures that tax liabilities are minimised.
Showing your clients that technology is both easy to use and inexpensive will go a long way to allaying the fears they have about making the switch to MTD.
Granted, there is a lot we still don’t know about MTD. The best thing you can do for your clients is to make sure you share the information you do have. Show your clients the truth behind the MTD myths, highlight the benefits the new system will bring, and get the digital ball rolling with the right software.
Get everyone on board now and you’ll all benefit when MTD comes into play.