Making Tax Digital (MTD) presents a significant change for British tax payers and is a massive undertaking for HMRC who has ambitious plans for its tax administration. Quite simply, if you are a business that is VAT registered, under the new MTD scheme, your annual return will become a thing of the past. The new system is intended to help everyone keep on top of their tax affairs more effectively by bringing together all of an individual’s or organisation’s tax affairs and monitoring all the information on a monthly basis. “HMRC’s ambition is to become one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world, modernising the tax system to make it more effective, more efficient and easier for customers to comply.” (HMRC) It would seem that one of HMRC’s key motivators is the many billions of pounds it loses through incorrect returns. “In 2014 to 2015 over £3.5 billion of revenue was lost due to these mistakes in VAT returns alone” (source: gov.uk). The key points to note: Every business and individual will have their own digital tax account, enabling them to see payments in and out, as well as their ‘balance’ – just like online banking It comes into effect April 2019 Businesses under the VAT threshold (currently £85,000) can choose to opt in or out of the new system, as preferred It is expected that all businesses will have to use MTD by April 2020 Information that can HMRC can obtain from employers, banks and government departments won’t be required to be provided The new system should create ‘tax in real time’ showing what is owing as close to real time as possible Better communications are proposed, allowing secure messaging “ICAEW welcomed the announcements. The institute’s position on MTD has been supportive of the move to digital in principle, but that MTD should not be mandatory or impose unreasonable admin burdens, and its introduction should allow enough time to ensure the system works. Removing mandation for the smallest businesses is a welcome step forward and one less regulatory burden for SMEs to worry about.” (ICAEW) This is a useful overview, provided by ICAEW: https://www.icaew.com/technical/tax/making-tax-digital
It really doesn’t matter how good your systems are if they are open to all. By having a portal that is as secure as it is possible to be, you are safeguarding your data, your clients’ data and your reputation. No one likes to work with a business that is flaky or relaxed about the security of their business, and this is especially true of the professions. We build in layers and layers of security which we believe is the safest approach. It would be a very confident organisation that claims they are impenetrable as hackers are increasingly sophisticated. However you should be working with a business that is ahead of the game, adding new elements of security and constantly active in developing its security. You might be forgiven for thinking that hackers aren’t interested in Joe Bloggs high street firm – but they are, for many reasons. They can add hidden links in the content of your website, diverting visitors away to another place. They can access data, information and your most sensitive files. This, as well as being highly alarming, also means your systems are non-compliant and the new GDPR data protection rules could mean your business faces huge fines if caught in breach. We could go on and on (and yes we have little bit) but we can’t stress enough how important security is. We can help if you think you could (or should) improve.
Yes we do go on about this quite a lot but with good reason! If you can offer an online signing facility, you speed things up no end, avoid unnecessary meeting time (save that valuable time for things that matter), no waiting on the post and you look incredibly cutting edge (and ahead of the game) at the same time. For us, online signing is safe, secure and complete no-brainer.
For any professional managing information on behalf of clients, email is dead. It is not secure and highly susceptible to human error. How many times have you sent information to or received information from the wrong source? I am regularly wrongly emailed client documents by a highly intelligent, trusted professional simply because I have a very similar name to his client. It is completely understandable but it could have any number of repercussions. A client portal is a cloud-based safe. The documents go in (added by you or your client), the recipient is notified and they are then retrieved. It is also subject to several layers of top-level security. For the sake of your practice, your reputation and your clients’ trust, switch from email to a secure client portal before it is too late. We can help, advise and support a quick transition to a much safer and more professional way to communicate.
We’ve all been there – passing round a document for feedback via several people. We lose track of the most up to date version and then someone comments late on an early iteration. It makes for confusing and long-winded communications at the very least. At worst, it can lead to much bigger problems if the wrong versions are acted on or published externally. With docSAFE, everyone accesses the same document. It is held in the central hub where one version exists. All participants visit the file in question and feedback in the same place. No more missed comments or version muddles. If only all of life could be made simpler so easily!
So why should you consider cloud working? We’ve written extensively on this but we’re going to keep it simple and give you five good reasons over the next few blogs on why you should be working in the cloud. The first reason is the foundation of all cloud working functionality. You can get to your files anytime, anywhere – that’s 24/7 from anywhere with internet access. No more ‘I’ve left it in the office’ or ‘I can’t get that to you until tomorrow, sorry’. You can access all the files you need to, all the time. What’s more, you can even give secure access to your clients so they can get to their own files – how much time and admin would that save? That’s it, told you we’d keep it simple.
We have been busy this month with online webinars that have been well-attended. Due to their popularity (and we attribute this to their brevity!), we have recorded them for any late-comers who wish to know more about developments in online portal functionality. Both webinars are less than 5 minutes and tell you more (with a live demo) about: How you electronically sign a document (and why you would want to offer this) 2-factor authentication (and why you should care) Both offer huge efficiencies to your organisation – find out more by listening. We also welcome any questions you may have by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling on 0121 794 0685.
Infographic GDPR What is the GDPR? Firstly, the GDPR affects every business that holds personal information on anyone, be they employees, customers or suppliers. It is a rare business that does not hold a list of personal data of some kind, on or offline. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal directive from the European Union for the protection of such personal data. It seeks to address the inconsistent data protection laws currently existing throughout the EU’s member states. Despite Brexit, the UK is still bound by this new law, not only because the UK has chosen to (because it makes sense) but trading with countries who operate under GDPR will be compromised if we don’t uphold the same standards. What’s the big deal? Failure to comply with GDPR could mean you risk being fined up to 4% of your company’s global annual turnover. Not only could your business suffer financially but you could also damage your reputation and credibility – who wants to do business with an organisation that doesn’t prioritise its clients’ security? So begins the 12 month countdown… What should you be doing? You must:
- Keep a record of data operations and activities and consider if you have the required data processing agreements in place
- Carry out privacy impact assessments (PIAs) on products and systems
- If applicable to your organisation, designate a data protection officer
- Review processes for the collection of personal data – do you ask permission? Many CRM systems encourage a dual confirmation (hence why you are asked to click a link via an email after registering with an organisation)
- Be aware of your duty to notify the relevant supervisory authority of a data breach
- Implement ‘privacy by design’ and ‘privacy by default’ in the design of new products and assess whether existing products meet GDPR standards
- A really powerful solution that we recommend is to use a secure client portal and NEVER use email to distribute information of any kind. A secure portal like docSAFE means data doesn’t leave the portal but can be accessed by authorised people only
- Educate your staff – and explain the implications
- Set up internal systems for reporting a data breach
- Make sure you extend your GDPR preparation to include any third parties who may have access to your data
- Ensure you extend the policies to cover everything your store both offline and online
No of course not. Online security extends to your website, emails, social media and so much more. At Online Practice, when we are developing software and systems such as docSAFE (our established client portal), security is our number one priority, surpassing functionality and appearance every time. Why create something that is amazing if it’s not secure? Our layers of security include the inclusion of QR codes, 2 factor authentication, encryption and, of course, the https certification that is currently being pushed hard by Google (see our other blogs for more about this). We believe that a secure site, layered with several other security measures is the most powerful deterrent against hackers. And we can’t stress enough that hackers don’t just target the big boys – they have strong motivation to hack into any site. We offer unique QR codes alongside online signatures to strengthen security at every level. QR codes are not new but in the fight against online fraud and hackers, they are a being used increasingly as a way of increasing the ‘uniqueness’ of an online signature. We encode the security data within our QR codes, not the signature or date so it is tamper-proof. Ask us for more information, we are happy to share our knowledge!
We all know of instances where emails are sent to the wrong person. In most cases, this can be simply excused by human error and we move on. However, occasionally, and of course to journalists’ delight, it creates headline news as vast numbers of personal details are exposed or documents are leaked to huge detriment. But have you ever considered why email is not secure? Well, when an email leaves your inbox to wing its way – in an instant – to its intended recipient, it travels through an unknown number of servers. The point being, you don’t know who has access to those servers. It is possible, to a degree, to encrypt email contents before they leave you, with the encryption remaining in place until the email hits the recipient. This is a good solution but there are still some issues around the security levels of your recipient. This is why we advocate the use of one or more security levels – we provide QR code security, dual factor authentication and a number of encryption solutions. Above all, we recommend avoiding email for sensitive information and, instead, using a secure client portal – a sort of ‘pigeon hole in the sky’ where you can safely deposit documents that can only be collected by the intended recipient. Talk to us, together we can make sure you are as communicating as securely as possible.