Farewell to HMRC’s Free CT600 Form – And How Best to Replace It

As the Making Tax Digital juggernaut rolls ever closer, there are a whole load of changes coming to HMRC’s digital offering. One of these is the demise of the Government’s free form-based corporation tax software. Here’s what you need to know:

The free filing software is for small firms with reasonably simple tax affairs; it’s used by some practitioners to file on behalf of their clients. It is about to be retired and replaced with a new service called Company Accounts and Tax Online (CATO). CATO will be a basic online service, with no need to download forms. The sting in the tail? Agents will not be able to use this service.

In terms of timing, the current software remains in-situ for accounting periods ending on or before 31 December 2015 and will remain available until 31 December 2016.

Most accountants will be relatively unaffected by this, as they will already have software from their chosen provider that enables them to file tax and accounts. Of course, the bonus of the CT600 form was that it cost nothing, so for practitioners that do need a substitute, a cost-effective solution will be important.

The free HMRC form was obviously limited in what it offered, so the benefit of needing to branch out to an alternative is that there are far more sophisticated options on the market. You can opt for a similar form-style solution, or integrated practice software, or you could look to the cloud. The good news is that there are affordable options around.

First things first, check what you have. See whether the function is already offered within the software you’re using – it may be something you’ve overlooked. If it isn’t, see whether it could be added as a bolt-on service, the cost of which you could spread across all clients. If not included, it offers an opportunity to reflect on what you need for your practice and shop around.

Our Corporation Tax software allows you to file CT600 returns, as well as iXBRL computations and iXBRL accounts online to HMRC. We’ve made this process seamless.

Whatever you opt for, make sure there’s the customer support on hand to help you use it. Adapting from a basic way of doing something to a new way of working is always challenging at first. A decent support service can be worth its weight in gold; ours always provides training, plus fast and responsive telephone and email support (with a 98% satisfaction rate).

We all love getting something for nothing! And it is understandably irritating when a free service stops. With CT600, there are plenty of better alternatives that could offer practitioners and their clients much more.

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