Leading Liverpool accountant says Chancellor should have offered firms digital clarity

BWMacfarlane managing partner Peter Taaffe says the move to digital tax returns could cause problems for small firms … meanwhile a property firm boss says a ban on lettings fees may not help tenants. Tony McDonough reports.

Peter Taaffe, managing partner of BWMacfarlane
Peter Taaffe, managing partner of BWMacfarlane

Chancellor Philip Hammond missed an opportunity to offer small and medium-sized businesses clarity on the switch to digital tax returns in his Autumn Statement.

That’s the view of leading Liverpool accountant Peter Taaffe, managing partner of BWMacfarlane, who warns the nation’s businesses are not being properly prepared for the HMRC digital revolution.

By 2020 the majority of UK firms self-employed people and landlords will be required to keep track of their tax affairs digitally and to update HMRC at least quarterly under the Making Tax Digital (MTD) plan.

Mr Taaffe welcomed the moved towards digital accounting but said firms urgently needed more clarity on how this would be implemented.

However, the Chancellor made no reference to it in the Autumn Statement.

“The lack of clarity around MTD, for me, is disappointing,” said Mr Taaffe.

“However, that Philip Hammond has announced significant investment into digital infrastructure and business rate relief on fibre can be taken as a heartening indication that the Government is taking small steps to enabling this initiative, and others like it.

“While it remains to be seen what support the government will actually offer to businesses in making the transition to accounting and recording online, that they are at least moving towards creating a more connected landscape for British businesses is something.

“It’s unlikely we’ll have any more information on MTD until January and we can’t be certain as to exactly how this will roll out.

“Until then, we shall continue to support those businesses we work with and continue to take strides in growing our own capabilities in the field of digital and cloud accounting.”

Meanwhile a Liverpool-based lettings agency boss claims the Chancellor’s ban on letting agency may not benefit tenants.

Letting fees

Helen Griffin-Booth, director of Bluerow Homes, said: “I am pleased to see that there is a growing concern from the government protect tenants against rogue letting agents who charge rising and unregulated fees.

“However, my ultimate concern is that tenants are not going to see the benefit of the ban on letting agency fees.

Helen Griffin-Booth, founder and director of Bluerow Homes
Helen Griffin-Booth, founder and director of Bluerow Homes

“Shifting these costs to landlords will likely cause them to pass them on to tenants by hiking up rents, or force them out of the private rented sector altogether, thus decreasing the level of available housing stock for those who are unable to get on the property ladder.”

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