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About In House Tax

This weblog is a news and views site for tax professionals within the UK and international in-house tax community.  You will find information about appointments and people moves in and around the in-house tax market, issues affecting the in-house tax professional, opinions on the state of the tax job market, updates on tax technology, and other general thoughts of the day.

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Location: St Albans, United Kingdom

This site has been developed by Simon Godley, who also runs the niche tax recruitment company Talentpool Selection . Simon spends a lot of his time placing tax specialists into FTSE companies, large in-bound groups and some professional services organisations. He also recruits and is well networked around the UK tax technology and VAT markets.

Tax News

Tax advisers brand HMRC's move to XBRL 'strange'

Monday, 20 July 2009

Source: AccountancyAge.com

Tax experts have condemned the insistence from the taxman that corporate tax returns only be made in the future using the controversial computer language XBRL.

For accounting periods ending after 31 March 2010, corporate tax returns have to be submitted using XBRL, a language that tags financial data and allows comparability. The majority of corporate tax accounts are currently filed using Microsoft Word or Excel.

But tax advisers have described the decision to adopt XBRL as both ‘strange’ and placing an ‘unwanted overhead’ on small business.

Tony Spillett, tax partner at BDO Stoy Hayward, estimated the cost of implementing XBRL could be ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ per firm.

‘There’s potentially a lot of work to be done. There’s a lot of red tape and additional burden on business so that HMRC can make life easier for themselves. It’s a real unwanted overhead,’ he said.

He added the long-term shift away from paper filing was welcome, however ‘it’s the devil in the detail and the way the HMRC has used the opportunity to capture the data in XBRL form [that] is concerning’.

According to Kevin Salter, technology partner at Glover Stanbury & Co, the decision by HMRC to adopt XBRL as the required format is strange given so few firms currently use the system.

‘We have no choice. I don’t know what their rationale for going down that route is. Various representations have been made by accountancy bodies but they’ve chosen to go their own way,’ he said.

Salter said a contracted software house will implement the necessary change on behalf of the firm but expects support fees for the service to rise as a result of the new requirement.

Tax advisers believe the change to XBRL will mean HMRC has the capacity to mine data more effectively and could lead to an increase in the number of tax enquiries.

A spokeswoman for HMRC confirmed that if a return is not filed in the new format, it will be ‘disregarded’ and treated as not having been delivered.

She said HMRC has consulted with the profession over the change and is continuing to engage with the software industry.


SG comment: There are quite clearly some financial winners and losers within these proposed submission changes. The losers are the companies that have to adopt these changes, the costs of changing their systems, the penalties for getting it wrong, and knock-on defence work with HMRC from the numbers being 'tagged'. The winners will most likely be the Big 4 and practice from increased advisory and implementation fees, and the software houses from selling their accounting / tax systems to industry. It will be very interesting to see how this all gets rolled out over the next couple of years.

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