UK accountants are not ready to go digital, warns IRIS Software Group, with a lack of preparation for Making Tax Digital risking chaos for accountants and businesses across the UK.
A study, conducted by IRIS, found that even though 66 per cent of accountants agreed with the Government’s digital strategy, 67 per cent had not read the Making Tax Digital documentation. A further 68 per cent disagreed with the timescales recommended by HMRC.
With the initial ‘go-live’ date of April 2018 approaching, time is running out for accountants to embrace digital change and begin supporting businesses on the journey towards Making Tax Digital.
Kevin Whitehouse, founder of accountancy firm Prime Entry, believes accountants need to change their outlook on Making Tax Digital to ensure they’re offering the best possible service to their clients.
He says, “Making Tax Digital has the potential to be absolute chaos, but it’s also the biggest opportunity to hit the accountancy industry in years. For those firms already embracing the technology available, this won’t be the step change many fear HMRC’s mandate will cause. They will already be working closely with their clients digitally and the change will simply equate to transitioning between filing tax documentation annually, to quarterly.
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“Accountants fearing the timescales will still be using basic spreadsheets and accepting bags of receipts from their clients. This can’t be accepted any more – this type of dark age accountancy is exactly why Making Tax Digital is such an important change in the industry.
“It’s vital accountants are educating their clients in how to bookkeep and manage their cash flow efficiently in advance of the changes. Accountants can then truly add value to companies throughout the UK by becoming high-level business advisors, rather than glorified bookkeepers.”
Sion Lewis, CEO Accountancy Division at IRIS Software, says, “As we move closer to Making Tax Digital, it’s crucial accountants demonstrate additional value to their customers. This isn’t possible if the industry fails to embrace innovative technology tools which will automate large portions of Making Tax Digital. There is the potential for more businesses to take financial management in-house as they discover the technology available to them. This is why it’s never been more important for accountants to engage with the mandate, bring themselves closer to their clients and ensure they’re positioned as an indispensable element of the team.”