Certain groups could be exempt from the digital aspects of MTD on the grounds of being digitally excluded, but what about those who are merely ‘digitally challenged’, those unwilling to engage in the digital future rather than genuinely excluded from it?
Digital exclusion is the inability to access online products or services or to use simple forms of digital technology. Read this short guide to find out how digital exclusion might affect your practice.
Causes of digital exclusion
Four main factors create digital exclusion:
Lack of access – no available broadband, no computer, no money to purchase these
Motivation – Not seeing the benefits or believing that these outweigh the costs
Lack of skills – Without access to equipment and training, skills can be hard to acquire
Lack of confidence – Fears of fraud and online security discourage many
90% of households in Great Britain had internet access, an increase from 89% in 2016 and 57% in 2006
73% of adults accessed the internet using a mobile phone, more than double the 2011 rate of 36%
77% of adults bought goods or services online, up from 53% in 2008
Location, location, location
Where you are in the country can have a big impact on your chances of digital exclusion. The Get Digital Heatmap shows this on a searchable map of the UK.
It uses a range of metrics on digital usage and connectivity to broadband and 4G, together with data on age, education, income and health to create a 8-point scale measuring the likelihood of overall exclusion or inclusion.
Practising members of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications
People for whom online filing is not reasonably practicable for reasons of disability, age, remoteness of location, or any other reason
Get ready for MTD
Although HMRC has said it will consider exemptions on a ‘case-by-case basis’, it’s unlikely that everyone who is currently digitally disadvantaged will be given full exemption from the requirements of MTD.
How may this affect your practice?
Some taxpayers who have been filing on paper will need an accountant to help them file digitally. Do you want their business? If they’re not online, how will they find out about you and make contact?
Is there anything you can do to encourage clients who are not yet online to get online? Are there local courses you could recommend? Or national initiatives such as the Barclays Digital Eagles? Could your practice produce its own guide?
Clients who cannot be encouraged to go online may create more work for the practice. How will this affect the fees you charge? Do you need to revise your letters of engagement? Will you need to withdraw from unprofitable work?