HMRC apologises for ‘technical issues’ with Making Tax Digital direct debits

Problems affected ‘a very small number’ of the 350,000 businesses now signed up for digital platform, according to perm sec

Credit: Pxhere/Public domain

By Sam Trendall

28 Jun 2019

HM Revenue and Customs has apologised for “technical issues” affecting the direct debit payments of some users of the Making Tax Digital platform.

In a letter to parliament’s Treasury Committee, HMRC permanent secretary Sir Jon Thompson acknowledged that the department is “aware of a very small number of customers who have been affected by technical issues which have impacted their direct debit payment”.

He added: “In some cases the associated online VAT account has shown incorrect statements. I am sorry for any inconvenience or worry this may have caused. We have taken steps to stop this happening in future, and we are working with those customers who were impacted to correct their accounts. Those customers should not have received either a penalty or an interest charge as a result of this technical issue. This is in line with our public commitment to take a light-touch approach to digital record keeping and filing penalties within MTD in the first year where people are doing their best to comply.”


Thompson explained that the digital platform is designed to work by cancelling any existing direct debits used for paying VAT and automatically setting up a new one.

“At this point, HMRC issues the customer a letter, explaining the direct debit switch, details of their new service user number and how the deduction will be labelled in their bank account,” he said. “We have arrangements in place to stop direct debit customers signing up to MTD too close to their filing deadline, so that this change does not impact their next direct debit payment.”

Elsewhere, the perm sec said that 350,000 firms have now signed up for the service, which has received more than 230,000 VAT submissions to date. The current tally of users is a little less than a third of the total of 1.2 million businesses that need to migrate to the new system. 

“We recognise that MTD represents a significant change for some businesses and their agents,” Thompson said. “We are committed to delivering these changes in a way that works for all. Our support model is designed to guide customers to the most appropriate help for their particular needs; whether through HMRC, a software developer or their agent. Our HMRC offer ranges from basic support such as signposting to online guidance for digital services, webinars and YouTube videos through to more intensive one-to-one support.”

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