Get ready for Making Tax Digital

Get ready for Making Tax Digital in five steps

5 min read

Just found out that HMRC’s Making Tax Digital for VAT affects you? Not sure what you have to do? Don’t panic. Just follow these five steps to get on the right track.

1. Register for an online Government Gateway account

The Government Gateway lets you use many national and local online government services safely and securely. Once it’s set up you can use it to pay taxes, check your tax account status and receive updates and alerts from HMRC.

If you haven’t already created one, you need to do this first. You can set up your account at Make sure you have the following info at hand:

  • Your name
  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • Email address

You’ll be asked to create a password. Once the process is complete you’ll get a user ID, which you can use to access the services you want (such as MTD for VAT).

But make sure you don’t leave this to the last minute. HMRC will send you an activation code in the post and you’ll only be able to progress to the next steps once you enter the code.

"Don’t leave this to the last minute."

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2. Find out when you’ll need to make your first MTD submission

If your taxable turnover* is above £85,000 (the VAT registration threshold) then MTD applies from your first VAT period starting on or after 1 April 2019.

There are some exceptions. Even if your taxable turnover is above £85,000 you won’t have to follow the MTD rules if:

  • Your business is run entirely by practising members of a religious society whose beliefs are incompatible with the regulation’s requirements (for instance, using computers is not allowed).
  • You are undergoing bankruptcy procedures.
  • You can’t easily use digital tools to keep your business records or submit your returns - for instance due to age, disability or remoteness of location.

If you think you meet one of these exceptions, contact the VAT Helpline to get confirmation.

  • According to HMRC, “VAT taxable turnover is the total value of everything you sell that is not exempt from VAT”.

"Would I rather concentrate on the business side of things, rather than the finances?"

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3. Decide if you need an accountant or bookkeeper

Accountants and bookkeepers are often just seen by business owners as a means to an end - a necessary step to make sure all tax obligations are met. But a good relationship with an accounting professional can help your business grow.

Here some questions you can ask yourself to help decide if you need an accountant or bookkeeper and, if so, which one might be right for you:

  • Do they have knowledge about my industry that can help me navigate complicated tax laws and tax deductibles?
  • Will I benefit from the additional services an accounting professional can bring (e.g. business insights and cashflow solutions)?
  • Would I rather concentrate on the business side of things, rather than the finances?

"QuickBooks is MTD compatible and a great place to start."

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4. Decide how you’ll digitally record transactions

HMRC’s MTD rules state that all VAT registered businesses must “keep and preserve” their income and outgoings within “functional compatible software”. This means you’ll need to:

  • Start recording and storing your financial records using software or apps
  • Be able to send this financial data to HMRC using HMRC-recognised software or apps (in technical language, software that can link via HMRC’s API)

It’s possible to use different software to do these two things. And there’s also what’s called “bridging software”, which allows you to “bridge” programmes like Excel or Google Sheets - which are not MTD compatible - with HMRC’s platform. QuickBooks offers a bridging solution, but longer term, these routes can get complicated, so you could be better off with an all-in-one solution which is MTD compatible.

One more thing, if you have an accountant or bookkeeper, make sure you they use the same accounting software as you. That way you can access the same data and reports. For example, QuickBooks for Accountants lets accountants and bookkeepers access their clients’ QuickBooks accounts to check for accuracy, view financial reports and even submit tax returns for them.

5. Practice – before it becomes mandatory

Learning a new process can seem daunting, but don’t worry, it will soon become second nature and there are lots of advantages to managing your finances this way. However, it makes sense to start practising your quarterly VAT submissions through software as soon as possible. That way you’ll get ready for Making Tax Digital in April 2019.

QuickBooks is MTD compatible and a great place to start. The software:

  • Records your finances digitally.
  • Calculates what VAT you owe.
  • Sends you reminders when your VAT return is due.
  • Allows you to submit your VAT return directly to HMRC.

There are lots of tools to help you get set up and ready on QuickBooks, including online help and also a UK-based Customer Excellence team that can answer any technical questions you may have.

Once you’re up and running you can stop worrying about MTD and concentrate on other things - like running your business!

Did you find this article about getting ready for Making Tax Digital useful? The QuickBooks Blog covers many more topics. It’s all part of the support we offer to small businesses in the UK.

Learn how QuickBooks can help you with Making Tax Digital

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