The NFRN is calling for government plans for small businesses to submit quarterly tax returns online to be put on hold until the full impact on small independent retailers can be understood.

However, if introduced, the process should be voluntary, rather than mandatory, and only applicable to businesses with an income threshold above £83,000 – the current threshold for VAT registration.

In its ‘Making Tax Digital’ consultations, the government is proposing that all businesses with an income threshold above £10,000 must file quarterly digital tax returns by 2019.

Responding to the consultations, the NFRN also called for more communication and guidance for small businesses, which, it said, may be less digitally able, along with additional support from accountants and tax agents and for HMRC to make available software and training.

NFRN Chief Executive Paul Baxter commented: “Finding the time to manage the costs associated with running a business, such as auto-enrolment and insurance, is already challenging for our independent retail members and quarterly digital returns will be yet another burden on them. On top of that, many retailers approach their record keeping through the collection of paper receipts and bank statements, so moving them onto a system of digital record keeping would be a monumental task, along with potentially scandalous rises in accountancy and agency fees.

“With members hard pressed both financially and time wise we are also concerned about the costs involved in investing in the necessary software and hardware as well as the need for training.

“That’s why we are calling on the government to conduct an independent impact assessment on small businesses and delay the rollout until a full assessment has been fulfilled.

“We also believe that, if implemented, there should be a voluntary, rather than mandatory, approach to making tax digital – similar to that in Australia,” Mr Baxter concluded.

For more information on the NFRN’s submission on digital tax, please contact Adrian Roper on 020 7017 8856 or email

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