I HAVE written a number of times over the last year about HMRC’s radical plan for Making Tax Digital (MTD).

This would have required the vast majority of businesses and landlords to keep their business records using accounting software and apps and to transmit an electronic summary of sales and expenses to HMRC every quarter.

On 13 July, 2017, ministers announced a major change.

The plan has now been revised so that now only VAT registered businesses with annual sales over the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) will be required to comply with MTD from April 2019.

Plans to bring landlords and other businesses into MTD from April 2018 or 2019 and non-VAT registered limited companies from 2020 have been postponed.

Although these businesses will be able to use the MTD system voluntarily, there will be no compulsion until at least April 2020.

This is very welcome news and is the result of intensive lobbying over the past eighteen months. Ministers and HMRC listened and have responded to the genuine concerns expressed.

This raises a question though: should businesses that are not now affected think about going digital anyway?

My own view is that people should be allowed to keep records in any way they choose as long as the records yield the necessary information for tax and for running the business.

Many of our clients have been using accounting software for decades, but others use spreadsheets and a significant number keep perfectly good handwritten records.

My argument all along has been that this choice should be made by the business, not the government.

I see significant advantages in using accounting software and apps and as a firm we encourage our clients to consider them.

Cloud based accounting software can help to improve records as well as providing useful information and analysis.

It can also enable us to look at clients’ live records electronically and to give prompts and advice in a way that we simply cannot when the business keeps handwritten records.

Apps are now very sophisticated and can do everything from capturing an image of a bill, transferring it instantly into an accounts software package to automatically recording business mileage using the technology in your mobile phone.

Apps can also provide a secure link to our accounting systems here at the office.

The delay in MTD is welcome, but it should not put anyone off looking at the potential digital technology offers.

Paul Aplin is a tax partner with A C Mole & Sons and Deputy President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; you can follow him on Twitter at @PaulAplinOnTax. He and fellow tax partner Amanda Gunter can be contacted on 01823 624450.