Viewing financial information in real-time could help farmers cope with subsidy changes as the deadline for Making Tax Digital (MTD) nears.
VAT-registered businesses with a turnover of more than £85,000 must be compliant from April 1, but it could be a chance for those not currently affected to migrate to new systems and ease the stress as the roll-out continues, according to accountants Baldwins.
With many farmers keeping manual records or using spreadsheets, MTD might seem daunting to some, but it can provide opportunities.
Russell Frayne, of Baldwins, said: “On MTD, there is a timesaving benefit.
“The main benefit is being pushed towards real-time information. In farming, benchmarking is really key. That is an added value from this.”
David Kirby, UK and Ireland managing director at Figured, which provides compliant software, agreed the system was likely to move to a fully digital model.
He suggested the industry needed to get on the front foot, with some advisers suggesting people can work around it.
“It is only going to go one way. They need to take clients to the future,” he said.
He added it would allow people to massively step up their insights for not much more effort: “The gains come if you are thinking about changing or measuring something you have changed to see if you have done better or not.”
Mr Frayne said seeing all the information in real-time could help farmers use their data to improve profits or deal with subsidy change and provide up-to-date data for accountants, consultants and banks.
Forecasting would also improve as farmers would be able to model scenarios and see how their business would cope with changes such as falling milk prices.
Advisers would see benefits from utilising more up-to-date accounts and opportunities for benchmarking groups of clients, with banks able to make decisions on current figures, not historic records.
‘MTD’ is worse than Brexit
THE move to an online tax system was a bigger headache than Brexit, according to one farmer who spoke to FG this week.
The dairy farmer, who asked not to be named, said she and her husband were not computer-literate, so were fearful of the process.
And despite the fact her son was proficient with online services, she claimed the burden of constantly updating accounts online was a major hurdle for the business.
She said: “Many farmers cannot use computers to the right levels to make this work and many accountants do not want to be bothered. This a bigger threat to us than Brexit.”