Making Tax Digital for Income Tax delayed: what do freelancers need to do?

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In December 2022, the government announced its decision to delay introducing Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA) for two more years until April 2026, explains GoSimpleTax.

The government says it has done so because it understands that the UK’s 3.1m sole traders (including self-employed freelancers) and its 2.66m private residential landlords are “currently facing a challenging economic environment, and the transition to Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment [MTD for ITSA] represents a significant change [for] taxpayers and HMRC for how self-employment and property income is reported.”

This delay has been welcomed by business groups and professional tax and accountancy bodies. Reportedly with both voluntary sign up to the MTD for Income Tax Self Assessment pilot scheme and awareness of MTD for ITSA among UK sole traders and landlords being very low.

Latest MTD for ITSA changes

As well as the two-year delay in introducing the first phase of Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment, the government has also increased the MTD for ITSA taxable income threshold.

So, what does this mean for freelancers? This means MTD for ITSA will impact far fewer Income Tax payers when first introduced, while many others won’t have to comply with Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment requirements for some years yet.

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment changes that were planned for introduction in April 2024 would previously have affected freelancers and landlords with taxable income of more than £10,000 a year.

However, from April 2026, only sole traders and UK landlords with taxable income of more than £50,000 in a tax year will be mandated to maintain digital records of their income and costs and provide quarterly summary updates to HMRC using MTD compatible software (or MTD bridging software that enables them to carry on using their existing accounting software).

Sole traders and landlords with a taxable income of £30,000 - £50,000 will need to comply with Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment requirements from April 2027 (unless more changes are made of course).

What if your total taxable income is below £30,000 a year?

In December the government also announced plans to conduct a review into the recording and reporting needs of smaller businesses with taxable income of less than £30,000 a year, which will include a large proportion of UK freelancers and sole traders.

The government says it wants to find out how MTD for ITSA can be made more suitable for smaller businesses and enable them to more easily manage their Income Tax obligations. The government says this review will inform further stages of MTD for ITSA’s introduction after April 2027.

The planned extension of MTD for ITSA to include members of ordinary business partnerships in 2025 has been scrapped, although no new date has yet been announced.

MTD for ITSA recording and reporting requirements

  • Under MTD for ITSA requirements, sole traders and landlords must maintain digital records of their income and costs and digitally send a quarterly summary to HMRC using MTD-compatible software. They can use bridging software that enables them to comply with MTD reporting requirements while using their existing accounting software (including basic spreadsheets).

  • They’ll then get an estimated tax bill, based on the information they’ve provided. HMRC believes this will enable sole traders and landlords to better budget to pay their Income Tax bills when required.

  • At the end of the year, sole traders and landlords must digitally submit a statement to HMRC, confirming the figures they’ve submitted, with any accounting adjustments made.

  • They must also make a final declaration, confirming any other income received. They won’t need to file a Self Assessment tax return if they don’t have any other taxable income to report. HMRC will then tell the sole trader or landlord how much tax they owe, which they must pay by 31 January in the following tax year.

Pilot paused for newcomers

In addition to the delay HMRC has now paused access to the pilot scheme for anyone wishing to try MTD for ITSA ahead of the compulsory date whilst they refresh their testing strategy. They will, of course, release updates in the future of any changes to the pilot and how to get involved.

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