As you will have no doubt heard, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are introducing a new way to file a business’ VAT returns from 1 April 2019. For VAT registered businesses with a turnover over the VAT threshold, currently £85,000, this is generally mandatory – there are exceptions, via religious beliefs, age exception and internet speed, however HMRC do not anticipate too many businesses falling within these criteria.

What does it entail?

In simple terms, VAT returns must be filed digitally direct from software, with all the transactional detail that make up a VAT return’s figures being within software. This will come into force for the first VAT return commencing after 1 April 2019, so if you have a May 2019 VAT return, the first VAT return on the new system would be the quarter to 31 August 2019. If you have monthly VAT returns, it would be the month of April 2019.

Which software?

There are many providers of MTD enabled software on the market, most on a subscription basis, so which do you choose? Your accountant may suggest one they prefer, however, it may not provide the management detail you would prefer. If you are looking for a reasonably priced software, yet easy to use and tailored to farming, then Farmplan Cash Focus or Cash Manager could be the right fit for your business. Other mainstream software packages including QuickBooks, Sage and Xero are also available, however, they may not provide the management detail of benefit to you and your business.

As accountants, we are happy to work with any of the above, and others too. We suggest a software package that suits your own requirements and needs, and can talk through the prices of different packages with you. If you would like a demonstration of Farmplan, then please just contact your usual contact or any of the Saint & Co farming team.

The costs

Farmplan Cash Focus is £198 + VAT per year on an annual contract. This software is simply analysing the bank transactions and any other business income/expenses not through the main bank account, with the facility to produce a variety of reports from the data held, together with filing of the VAT. The software is desktop software with the facility of cloud backups, and should suit many farmers. As accountants, we can then use the data for annual accounts, cash flow projections and much more. Other variants of Farmplan, giving extra functionality come at extra cost.

Xero, QuickBooks and Sage pricing is around £10 to £25 per month, depending on the version you use. Each has its own merits, and may be of more relevance to your own business.

If you would prefer Saint & Co to do your VAT calculations, then please contact us. Preparing your VAT quarterly will help to prepare your annual accounts, and can also help with tax planning opportunities throughout the year.

Have staff?

If you require payroll functionality, then all the software above have payroll software capabilities, albeit, this will be at extra cost – costs being dependent generally on the number of employees.

If you want to know more, talk through your options, or discuss anything else, please contact us