Navigating the Transition to Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA)

13 September 2023

Navigating the Transition to Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA)

In the ever-evolving landscape of tax regulations, staying up to date with changes is crucial for businesses and individuals alike. With the successful implementation of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT returns, the government is now turning its attention to the next phase: Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment (ITSA). This significant change will have a profound impact on how sole traders and landlords report their tax obligations and interact with HMRC.


Understanding the Timeline: When Does Making Tax Digital for ITSA Take Effect?

Originally scheduled to come into force in April 2024, the government has taken the evolving economic landscape into account and extended the timeline for sole traders and landlords to adapt to the changes. The mandatory reporting for Making Tax Digital for ITSA will now commence from April 2026. Furthermore, the scope will be broadened in April 2027 to cover a wider range of sole traders and landlords. Notably, the expansion of MTD for ITSA to general partnerships, initially planned for 2025, will be rescheduled for a later date.

Determining Your Inclusion: Are You Affected by Making Tax Digital for ITSA?

The transition to Making Tax Digital for ITSA will impact individuals meeting specific criteria.

If you satisfy all of the following conditions, the new requirements will apply from April 2026:

  • Are an individual
  • Are registered for Self-Assessment.
  • Were self-employed or collecting property income before 6 April 2025. 
  • Have a qualifying income of more than £50,000.

From April 2027, the following criteria will apply:

  • Are an individual. 
  • Are registered for Self-Assessment. 
  • Were self-employed or collecting property income before 6 April 2026.
  • Have a qualifying income of more than £30,000.

A range of exemptions for Making Tax Digital for ITSA exist, which you may be eligible for depending upon your circumstances.

Embracing Digital Transformation: Key Changes and Considerations

The shift to Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self-Assessment represents a transformative change in how individuals manage their tax obligations. By embracing digital tools and understanding the new reporting requirements, you can position yourself for success and compliance in the modern tax landscape.

  1. Software Adoption

One of the most significant shifts brought about by Making Tax Digital for ITSA is the requirement for digital submission and maintenance of records. To ease this transition, it's advisable to explore and test suitable digital software options ahead of time. Cloud accounting software packages like Xero and specialised landlord software such as Hammock are popular choices. If you prefer using spreadsheets, ensure they comply with the new regulations or contemplate adopting dedicated accounting software or outsourcing bookkeeping.

  1. Increased Reporting Frequency

Under MTD for ITSA, reporting frequency undergoes a substantial change. Instead of an annual self-assessment tax return, you'll be required to submit quarterly update statements. These statements should be filed by the 5th day of the month following the end of the relevant quarter. For instance, if a period covers 6th April to 5th July, the filing deadline is 5th August. Alternatively, if you opt for calendar-based quarters, the deadline extends to a month and 5 days from the period's end. Additionally, the End of Period Statement and Final Declaration are due on 31 January following the tax year end.

While this increased reporting may seem daunting, it also offers a unique opportunity to leverage the data you collect for insightful business analysis. By aligning your reporting with your business goals, you can gain valuable insights to enhance your financial strategies.

  1. Penalties and Compliance

 With the implementation of Making Tax Digital, a points-based penalty system comes into play. This system combines fixed rate and tax geared penalties, emphasising the importance of timely reporting. Each missed submission deadline results in accruing a point. The number of points required to trigger a penalty varies based on the reporting frequency (monthly, quarterly, or annual), and points are cleared after two years.

What about Basis Period Reform – how will this impact me and MTD ITSA?

Along with the upcoming changes for MTD ITSA, there is another key date to bear in mind. On 6 April 2024, HMRC are set to implement Basis Period Reform (BPR). BPR impacts sole traders/partnerships with non-coterminous accounting periods, i.e. their year-end differs from the tax year end of 5 April. The goal of BPR is to simplify tax returns and tax business profits in the financial year they arise. Overlap profits are a key consideration and should be addressed for the tax year ending on 5 April 2025, to avoid potential loss.

Bearing all this in mind, now may be the perfect time to digitise your accounting function and be ready for the digital tax future!

Navigating the intricacies of Making Tax Digital for ITSA may seem overwhelming, but you don't have to go through it alone. We’re here to be your trusted partner, guiding you through the transition and helping you make the most of the new digital landscape. Whether you need assistance in selecting the right digital accounting package, training, or managing the increased reporting requirements, we're dedicated to ensuring a smooth and successful transition for your business into the digital era.


Hasan Shaikh

Senior Tax Manager