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Making Tax Digital: Change is on the horizon

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Since April 2019, VAT-registered businesses with taxable turnover above £85,000 have had to keep digital records and use appropriate software to submit their tax returns. This requirement extends to all VAT registered businesses from April 2022.  

From 2024, this digital tax system, known as Making Tax Digital (MTD), will expand even further to include those who currently complete Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) as self-employed and/or who receive income as landlords. 

While this will be a big change for some, the transition to Making Tax Digital is being reported by a good proportion of VAT-registered businesses as simplifying tax returns, making it easier to manage tax payments, and reducing the margin for error. For the full HMRC report click here.

What is Making Tax Digital and when do the new rules apply?

MTD is the HMRC project to make tax administration more efficient. The new Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA) rules were due to come into effect from April 2023, but this has been delayed to 6 April 2024 due to the pandemic. 

General partnerships will not be required to join MTD for ITSA until the tax year beginning in April 2025. The date on which all other types of partnerships will be required to join will be confirmed later. 

Making Tax Digital ITSA eligibility

MTD ITSA will apply to the self-employed and landlords with annual business and/or property income above £10,000. It’s important to note that from April 2024, MTD for self-assessment will apply to:

• gross income or turnover, not profit
• the total income if an individual is self-employed and a landlord.

From our initial research, HMRC will be using the turnover from the 2022/23 tax year to determine if an individual will have to report from April 2024. In addition, new businesses will be required to join MTD ITSA from the April after they file their first self-assessment tax return. Some groups are exempt from MTD and there are limited exemptions that can be applied for including disability and access to internet. 

How will the new digital compliance rules work? 

Businesses that come under the new rules will need to sign up for MTD ITSA and keep digital records if they don’t already do so.

From 6 April 2024, business income and expense updates need to be submitted quarterly: 5 April / 5 July / 5 October / 5 January. However, you can elect to move these to 31 March / 30 June / 30 September / 31 December, with income finalised at the end of the tax year and a final declaration made rather than a self-assessment tax return. 

For example: if a sole trade business which comes under the new MTD ITSA rules has a 5 April year end, their first quarter will end 5 July 2024. They will have one month to file, creating a deadline of 5 August 2024. So, their first year’s returns would be due as follows: 


Due date

Period covered

1st quarter

5 August 2024

6 April 2024 – 5 July 2024

2nd quarter

5 November 2024

6 July 2024 – 5 Oct 2024

Self-assessment year end

31 January 2025

Financial year 2023/4

3rd quarter

5 February 2025

6 Oct 2024 – 5 Jan 2025

4th quarter

5 May 2025

6 Jan 2025 – 5 Apr 2025

Self-assessment year end

31 January 2026

Financial year 2024/5

It’s important to note, that tax payment dates remain unchanged, although you will be allowed to voluntarily pay your tax as you go along.

You might be wondering what this means if your current accounting year end doesn’t align to these dates.  HMRC have been consulting on their proposals to simplify the rules under which profits are allocated to tax years using basis periods. They are progressing with their plans and the changes will be implemented in preparation for MTD.   

The basis period reform will mean MTD quarterly updates will be aligned with each other and the tax year.

For the HMRC final response on basis periods click here.

Getting ready

While there is time, the change to digital compliance is significant and we can’t afford to be complacent. We’ll keep you updated on all MTD ITSA matters.

If you’d like to discuss preparations for these new rules, including compliant software, please speak to your usual Larking Gowen contact or email

William Wadsley


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Larking Gowen


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