Is Making Tax Digital the gateway to automated accounting?

30/11/2018

Making Tax Digital (MTD) – the government’s plan to revolutionise Britain’s tax infrastructure – is set to be introduced on April 1st, 2019. From this point onwards, all businesses with an annual turnover of more than £85,000 will be required to use the service.

Despite official scepticism about British business’ readiness for tax transformation, MTD, as the Government states, has the power to make accounting more effective, efficient and accurate. It also represents a real opportunity for businesses to start automating their accounting processes; a move which has the potential to significantly reduce costs and maximise profits. What is unclear is how exactly to reap the benefits of the system with minimal hassle. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can help.

Replacing humans? 

According to Randstad Singapore, “as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and present in all aspect of businesses, accounting professionals can expect a shift towards more strategic and analytical roles.” This suggests that rather than replacing humans, automated accounting will help to eliminate more laborious duties, allowing for an improved service.

MTD represents a key step in the direction of progress for UK businesses, prompting them to think about how they can properly leverage the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to further streamline their business processes.

An unwanted imposition?

Like GDPR, MTD may seem to some like an unnecessary inconvenience. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that UK businesses are beholden to the legislation – and compliance doesn’t need to be difficult.

As previously explored by City Dynamics, SMBs have powerful tools at their disposal which can help them to view MTD as an exciting opportunity. For example, users of Business Central can customise automated workflows which not only save time but eliminate the risk of human error. Its Optical Character Recognition (OCR) functionality also empowers users to scan and upload invoices directly to the cloud. As Randstad Singapore alluded to, this allows accountants to be more impactful in more important areas, rather than being weighed down by manual processes.

Choosing Business Central as your solution will not only help you with compliance now but well into the future, too. “We would always seek to give our customers the best possible tools to be compliant. As technology goes forward we can give them better and better tools,” Søren Friis Alexandersen, senior program manager for Dynamics 365 SMB at Microsoft in Denmark, said earlier this year.

Disrupting 500 years of practice

Apprehension about MTD and automation in accountancy more broadly is only natural. After all, as Jean Baptiste Su, Vice-President and Principal Analyst at Atherton Research, states “AI-based technologies […] will disrupt the accounting industry in a way it never was for the last 500 years, bringing both huge opportunities and serious challenges.” Embracing automation, then, will have to be a gradual process.

But what MTD encourages is significant; if UK businesses take a big leap of faith now, they will benefit in the near future and will stand in good stead to become global trailblazers in automation-adoption. Depending on your mindset, it can either be an inconvenience or an opportunity. It’s entirely up to you.

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