The Administrative Burdens Advisory Board (ABAB) has submitted its third Annual Report to David Gauke MP, Financial Secretary to Treasury. The news of quarterly digital reporting took it by surprise and it is disappointed at the extra burdens imposed on the self employed.

The ABAB is an independent board, established in 2006 to bring a real business perspective to HMRC. Its report reviews the last 12 months as well as outlining ABAB’s priorities for the year ahead.

On HMRC proposals for quarterly digital reporting:

‘… whilst we recognise and are supportive of the need to move to digital and the potential this brings, we are disappointed with the announcement to mandate digital record keeping and quarterly online reporting for even the smallest businesses as part of ‘Making Tax Digital for Business’. We were surprised and disappointed when this was announced at Autumn Statement, particularly that given our close engagement and relationship with HMRC we were not informed of the intentions earlier.’

Noting that it is "also apprehensive about the admin burden impact of businesses needing to provide HMRC with information on a quarterly basis. It is difficult for us to see how more frequent reporting can reduce burden."

The report also looks at HMRC performance in other areas. It is concerned that service levels, notably on phones, continue to be poor. This is significant in terms of going ditigal propisals and the ABAB has "...serious concerns about the intention to mandate the use of digital accounts" and it wants "to understand more about the support available to business customers who may struggle with this transition to digital working, whether that’s because they do not have the skills, confidence or access."

The ABAB also has concern that in the changeover to digital, HMRC’s arrangements for agents have not kept pace with those for small businesses themselves.  It says:

‘The great majority of small businesses interact and have a relationship with an agent for some or all of their tax affairs, and this delay will have a continued impact on them.We feel there is an urgent need to identify a workable solution to allow agents to benefit from digital delivery; which in turn will have a positive effect and bring benefits to their clients. We would stress that this is not simply a plea to help agents: this is needed to help businesses and HMRC. We commend HMRC for trying to simplify processes for businesses so they have less need to use an agent but HMRC need to accept and recognise that many – probably most – businesses will continue to use an agent to help with tax responsibilities.’


The Administrative Burdens Advisory Board (ABAB)