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Welcome to the August 2017 Newsletter from Certax Accountants in Catford & Lewisham

The government has announced significant changes to its plans for Making Tax Digital, following months of controversy over the new initiative. The changes mean that initially only businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 will be required to keep digital records, starting from 2019.

Meanwhile, business groups have responded to the Taylor Review of employment practices, and the government has also confirmed its intention to bring forward the planned rise in the state pension age.

Government announces significant changes to Making Tax Digital plans

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced considerable changes to its plans for Making Tax Digital (MTD).

The government stated that it is committed to ensuring a 'smooth transition to a digital tax system'.

Following the changes, initially only those businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 will be required to keep digital records and make quarterly reports to HMRC, and only for VAT purposes. VAT already requires quarterly returns, so businesses will not need to provide updates any more regularly than they do now. These businesses will need to begin keeping digital records for VAT from April 2019.

Businesses and landlords with a turnover below the VAT threshold can opt to utilise the system if they so wish, but businesses will not be required to keep digital records or update HMRC quarterly for other taxes until 'at least 2020'.

HMRC intends to pilot Making Tax Digital for VAT on a small scale by the end of this year, and will introduce wider live piloting from Spring 2018.

Business groups have broadly welcomed the changes to the MTD timetable. Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: 'The exemption of the very smallest firms below the £85,000 turnover VAT threshold has been [the] FSB's top priority for reform, and now millions of business owners will be relieved.

'This is a positive decision, and will be a real lifeline for small firms already facing a hugely challenging economic climate.'

The changes to MTD will be legislated for as part of the forthcoming Finance Bill, which is due to be published in the Autumn.

Business groups react to Taylor Review of employment

Business groups have reacted to the recommendations of the Taylor Review into modern-day employment practices, which sets out the key principles for providing 'fair and decent work for all'.

The review suggests that a national strategy is needed to help provide security in such areas as wages, quality of employment, education and training, working conditions, work-life balance and the ability to progress at work.

Recommendations for the government include implementing strategies to ensure that workers don't get 'stuck at the living wage minimum', initiating a review focusing on providing employees with 'good work', and avoiding an increase in the non-wage costs involved in employing an individual, such as the Apprenticeship Levy.

The review also highlights the so-called 'gig' economy, recommending the creation of new 'right to request' guaranteed hours, and the introduction of the term 'dependent contractor' to replace the term 'worker', with the aim of capturing those who are currently classed as self-employed, but who work for firms which have a 'controlling and supervisory' relationship with their workers.

Business groups have given mixed reactions to the report's findings, with many welcoming the focus on labour market flexibility, but also warning that some areas, including the plans to rewrite employment status tests, are a cause for concern.

Commenting on the report, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: 'The world of work is changing, and it is only right that employment law and practice change with it. Matthew Taylor has rightly recognised that the UK's flexible labour market is a great source of strength and competitive advantage, but has also recommended some common-sense changes where grey areas have emerged in recent years.'

However, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) warned that the review 'is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work'.

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