Treasury should delay new accounts filing technology

The Government has been urged to put back the introduction of a new computer system for the submission of company accounts.

The call has come from the UK's leading accountancy bodies.

Five of the foremost accountancy and professional tax bodies have written to David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary, in the hope that the implementation of the iXBRL system be delayed.

iXBRL is the computer language in which most corporation tax returns are due to be submitted from 1 April 2011.

The letter was signed by Anthony Thomas, deputy president of the CIOT, Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the ACCA, Donald Drysdale, assistant director taxation at ICAS, Simon Braidley, president of the ATT, and Frank Haskew, head of the tax faculty at the ICAEW.

Anthony Thomas, the Chartered Institute of Taxation's (CIOT) deputy president, said: "With only two months until the planned mandatory implementation of iXBRL online filing, our members and other businesses are facing implementation problems. Two substantial providers of accounts preparation software have failed to deliver their iXBRL-enabled software products."

Although the submission of corporation tax computations is going well, the CIOT highlighted problems with statutory accounts.

The CIOT also suggested that companies planning to use other software solutions for preparing iXBRL-compliant accounts are facing difficulties.

While Mr Thomas admitted that he was "enthusiastic about online filing and even happy with filing in iXBRL for the tax computations", he went on to point out that "business is not ready for filing statutory accounts in iXBRL at this stage".

He added: "If HMRC proceeds, small to medium sized businesses and their agents will be hit the hardest. This runs the risk of diverting precious management time away from customers and growth towards red-tape and compliance and is not acceptable."

HMRC indicated that if the new software was not ready and working they would seek to amend the compulsory requirement.

Mr Thomas said: "We are at that stage now and amendment to the plans should take place by allowing submission of statutory accounts in PDF format after 1 April 2011 until the situation becomes significantly clearer."

To ease the transition, the CIOT wants the filing of PDF accounts to be permitted for an interim period.

This should be followed by a period when accounts are accepted which meet the minimum validation tests on the Government Gateway.