By 2020 all businesses in the UK will be expected to file their tax details online using HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC’s) new digital tax system.
But the financial sector fears most farm businesses won’t be ready.
During last year’s Budget the Chancellor declared that tax was going digital. Now more than a year on, the true impact of this change can be seen in the government’s Making Tax Digital paper.
Whilst these proposals are still under consultation, certain things are already clear, the main issue being that all businesses with a turnover exceeding £10,000 will have to provide details of their financial affairs every four months.
The government has stated that these are unlikely to be as detailed as annual returns.
However, despite the government’s attempts to reduce the impact of this change they are still likely to create an additional burden for business, especially within labour intensive industries such as farming.'Quality of internet connection'
Paul Laird, a specialist in the financial affairs of farmers and a Director at Buckinghamshire-based Fish Partnership, said: “The Making Digital Tax proposals are going to create both an administrative and potential financial burden that many farm owners will struggle with.
“The last thing any farmer wants to do is come in from a long day in the fields or on his farm and sit down to a computer to input his tax details.”
He said that while HMRC would use some of its real time information gathering from banks and other financial institutions to help taxpayers, much of the work would still fall on the individuals managing a business.
“The timeline for this project is very short and there is already growing concern about whether HMRC has the necessary resources to meet the demand of such a complex system,” Paul added.
“There will also be a number of farmers out there concerned about the quality of their internet connection, as there are already those in remote – and not so remote areas – that struggle to do even the most basic task online due to the outdated infrastructure available to them.”