The decision to adopt new digital technology is usually one that companies make for themselves – but next year a change to UK law will force many business owners to update their processes.
What is changing?
On April 1st 2019, the way business owners file their VAT returns is changing. Making Tax Digital will have an impact on the Tax system, transforming the administration process into a simple and more efficient process, ensuring that tax payments are as accurate as possible. VAT-registered businesses above the VAT threshold will be required to keep their records digitally and use software to help submit their tax returns digitally. More specific information can be found at gov.uk.
Why the change?
Not surprisingly, the main reason for the new Making Tax Digital law is that the UK Government believes it is missing out on a big chunk of VAT revenue.
According to Government figures, there is a shortfall of up to £9 billion in VAT revenues collected every year. Ultimately, HMRC wants to ‘become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world.’ While few of us relish the prospect of paying more in tax, most of us would want to fix a leak in our business finances of that magnitude ASAP.
Eliminating ‘avoidable mistakes’
According to the Government, the main reason for the VAT accounting problems are ‘avoidable mistakes’ by those submitting financial paperwork. This problem is not confined to submitting figures for government use.
Companies who are still using paper-based systems and cash are creating huge potential for avoidable mistakes, scope for fraud and the need for expensive manual administration. For example, companies that ask employees to keep paper receipts for expense management purposes. On a global scale, companies are potentially losing out on $20 billion dollars of unclaimed VAT every year. At the same time, their employees are left frustrated and irritated at having to spend so much time on irritating manual processes.
Many companies have already cut out the margin for avoidable mistakes such as eliminating paper processes and cash in favour of digital technology. For others, it may be a painful transition, but it is likely to be those same companies who benefit most from the new rules in the long-term. Now is a great time to think about how Making Tax Digital could be your opportunity to take control of your financial processes and increase efficiency of your business.
The warning signs for a tough transition
Here are just a few signs that may indicate that the introduction of Making Tax Digital will be difficult for your business:
- Cash is still being used for expense management
- Your finance department is over-worked, spends too much time chasing paperwork and seems to lack control
- Your employees are frustrated by having to keep and submit paper receipts in order to claim expenses
These are just a few legacy issues that are likely to make the transition to digital tax returns difficult, impact efficiency and increase administrative costs.
How can businesses prepare for Digital?
Start by eliminating cash processes from your business. For example, more companies are issuing prepaid cards to their employees for expense purposes. The entire process is digital, enables strict spending control and can be monitored in real-time. This helps to build efficient and accurate finance processes that eliminate any costly errors, whilst reporting in real time.
Also, look for ways to automate systems and processes such as through integration with packages such as Sage, Concur and Xero. Implementing an efficient and integrated digital finance system, frees up time for employees to focus on more critical and value-driven work, whilst enabling you to access previously unclaimed tax.
If Making Tax Digital looks like a major challenge to your business, start planning for it now. It could be your ideal opportunity to kick start a discussion within your business about shedding old processes and taking real control of your finances. Contact B4B for more information on how prepaid cards can be used to increase the efficiency and accuracy of your corporate expenses.
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