All farm and forestry businesses which have a taxable turnover that exceeds the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 per annum will need to keep their records digitally, using Making Tax Digital (MTD) functional compatible software, from April 1, 2019 onwards.

This VAT registration threshold excludes the Basic Payment and any other agricultural grants or subsidies. All farmers reaching that threshold will need to either create their VAT return digitally using such software for return periods, or instruct an accountant or business adviser to undertake this on their behalf, from April 1, 2019 onwards.

The new legislation means this will be a non-negotiable challenge for thousands of UK businesses, as HMRC has made it clear that it is only in very rare circumstances that some businesses may be considered exempt.

For farm and forestry businesses registered with Farming Connect, help is at hand to explain what is needed, thanks to a series of Making Tax Digital (MTD) evening events delivered by Menter a Busnes, which will be provided at locations throughout Wales. All places must be booked in advance and each event will run from 7.30 to 9.30pm.

Eirwen Williams, director of rural programmes with Menter a Busnes, which delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government, explained that the two-hour sessions will be quite informal and include the opportunity for a Q&A. They will be delivered by a number of leading rural accountancy firms in Wales, all selected for their expertise in providing tax and financial advice on digital requirements for agricultural businesses.

“For many farmers and foresters, attending one of these events might be their first introduction to the new legislation, but our aim is to ensure that everyone attending leaves with a clear understanding what is required of them, through straightforward, easily understood presentations.

“Although many individuals will be understandably nervous of change, we hope that these events will give attendees the information they need to plan ahead and capitalise on the opportunities of digital financial management,” said Mrs Williams.

Eirian Humphreys, a director of LHP chartered accountants in Carmarthen will deliver a tranche of events in South West Wales.

Mr Humphreys explained that it’s essential that any farm and forestry businesses who haven’t already moved over to online VAT systems, prepare for the new legislation as soon as they can.

He emphasised that pleading age or disability, lack of computer skills or living in a geographic location without access to broadband will not exempt a business from the new legislation. Mr Humphreys added that if for any reason they are unable to tackle this themselves, their accountants should be able to help them, provided they are conversant with the new legislation and have invested in the necessary software.

“The switch from manual to digital record-keeping; changes to VAT return submission and challenging time frames for introducing the new software now essential for this ‘digital compliant’ legislation will be a challenge for many farmers, especially the less computer-literate ones.

“On a more positive note, many accountants in Wales are already working with farmers who have been operating digital tax systems for many years, inputting their own ‘real time’ data, and as we ourselves know from experience, these tend to be the most successful businesses,” said Mr Humphreys.

Many of the more progressive farmers in Wales are already conversant with MTD and freely admit that digital management has transformed the way they run their business. The system not only gives them instant access to their accounts but because banking data is fed in directly from banks, the information is always up to date. Digital ‘cloud’ accounting technology which MDT will rely upon, is acknowledged as being one of the most secure online systems in the world.

“Many clients say they wish the MTD system had been available years ago, because it’s enabling them to keep their costs down by giving them a much clearer understanding of their business which means they can benchmark where they stand financially on a quarterly, monthly or even daily basis,” said Mr Humphreys.

Farming Connect will also introduce a new fully-funded ICT training programme in the new year. Pitched at all levels of expertise, from complete IT novices to those with more experience, the new programme will help many individuals strengthen their skills as they not only gear up for the new digital legislation but learn how to modernise their business management systems.

For further information on Farming Connect’s fully-funded ICT training programme, which includes training courses, together with optional home visits and workshops arranged throughout Wales, visit

For dates and locations of the Farming Connect ‘Making Tax Digital (MDT) events visit All places must be booked in advance by calling the Farming Connect Service Centre on 08456 000 813.

The events include one at Newtown on Monday, February 11, delivered by Katie Powell of Whittinghal Riddell, at the Elephant and Castle Hotel.

For further information about the new legislation, visit