Making Tax Digital delay: everything you need to know

In this short guide, we’ll explain what the Making Tax Digital (MTD) delay means for businesses, accountants, and bookkeepers, and why you should still prepare for the legislation now.

MTD calendar

What is the Making Tax Digital delay?

In December 2022, HMRC announced a delay in Making Tax Digital for Income Tax. Instead of launching in April 2024, the first phase of MTD for ITSA will begin in April 2026, for sole traders and landlords earning above £50,000. You can read the full statement to parliament here.

What is the new start date for MTD for ITSA?

Based on HMRC’s latest announcement, MTD for ITSA will follow a phased approach from April 2026.

Sole traders and landlords earning above £50,000 will need to comply with ITSA rules from April 2026.

Sole traders and landlords earning above £30,000 will follow in April 2027.

Our Making Tax Digital timeline includes information on all other MTD start dates.

Why was MTD delayed?

According to HMRC, MTD for ITSA was delayed to ease the pressure on businesses given the current economic climate. It was also stated that the delay would give businesses more time to adapt to new ways of working.

What changes have been made to MTD for ITSA?

HMRC will now introduce MTD for Income Tax with a phased approach, with multiple income thresholds.

From April 2026, sole traders and landlords earning above £50,000 annually will need to follow ITSA rules.

From April 2027, sole traders and landlords earning above £30,000 annually will follow.

General partnerships and smaller businesses earning less than £30,000 annually are yet to be mandated. We’ll be sure to report on this as soon as the dates are announced.

Has the MTD penalty system been delayed?

Taxpayers will be subject to the new Making Tax Digital penalty system once they’re mandated to join MTD. The new system comes into place for ITSA in 2024, with the first penalties applied to 2026 submissions.

For VAT-registered businesses already filing MTD for VAT returns, the new penalty system is already in place.

When sole traders and landlords earning above £50,000 are mandated for MTD for ITSA in April 2026, they will also be subject to the new penalty system.

Is Making Tax Digital going to happen?

Absolutely. Despite the slowdown in pace, digital transformation is still the direction of travel.

Making Tax Digital can help businesses run more efficiently, use resources more effectively, and save time on day-to-day admin. But right now, businesses are facing considerable challenges in light of economic uncertainty and will benefit from a little extra time to prepare.

Pushing the deadline back gives businesses and accounting practices more time to get confident about the legislation and learn how to use cloud-based accounting software to improve their overall business health.

Who is affected by the MTD for ITSA delay?

Self-employed individuals and landlords are impacted by the MTD for ITSA delay.

Sole traders and landlords earning above £50,000 annually will need to comply with ITSA rules from April 2026. Sole traders and landlords earning above £30,000 annually will follow in 2027.

General partnerships and those earning below £30,000 annually are yet to be mandated.

All this means is that the earliest ITSA rules will be mandated is April 2026 – so businesses, accountants, and bookkeepers have plenty of time to learn the new system and find ITSA-compatible software.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that, whilst thresholds have been established, you can voluntarily sign up to MTD for ITSA at any point once a public sign up process has been established and you’re using MTD for ITSA-ready software.

Should you still prepare for MTD for ITSA now?

Definitely. Businesses, accountants, and bookkeepers should see the delay as an opportunity to find the right tools and hone their digital skills ahead of the deadline. Instead of pressing pause on your MTD preparations, use this time to learn how you can reap the most rewards from cloud-based software.

Don’t miss out on the benefits of digitalisation

Embracing digitalisation isn’t just about MTD compliance – tools and software can help you run a healthier business by demystifying your financial position with forecasts, reports, and live feeds.

Accountants and bookkeepers will also be able to provide real-time advice and guidance based on live data in their clients’ software. So both accounting practices and businesses benefit from having clear and accurate data, thanks to cloud-based software.

What’s more, some cloud-based accounting software packages allow you to integrate multiple tools and platforms. So you can join the dots between all kinds of business functions – such as project management, payroll, and financial planning. This means less hopping between tabs and more time spent focusing on your business.

You should use this extra time to explore how MTD for ITSA software can help you with other aspects of your business, such as payroll, invoicing, forecasting, and inventory.

If you’re self-employed, read our FAQs on Making Tax Digital for the self-employed to get started.

Stepping up accounting services

Using cloud software means both businesses and their advisors have access to the same, real-time business information, and can update it easily and regularly. Clients will likely look to their accountants and bookkeepers for new services – such as advisory, as the day-to-day admin becomes increasingly automated. The earlier practices and businesses prepare for MTD for ITSA, the sooner accountants and bookkeepers can start tailoring their services to meet clients’ changing needs.

Business owners will also want to be confident they’re on the right software package for their needs, so accountants and bookkeepers need to be well-versed in the options. Thanks to the delay, practices and businesses have plenty of time to sign up for trials, play with different software features, and explore integrations.

If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, check out this article on how to prepare your clients for MTD for ITSA.

Get ahead with MTD for ITSA

Ready to make digitalisation work for you? Check out our MTD for ITSA advice hub for helpful guides and tips to get started with MTD for ITSA today.

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