VAT Direct - Free Making Tax Digital bridging system and cloud cashbooks for smaller businesses

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VAT Direct

Making Tax Digital - Free Accounts for the submission of VAT and Self Assessment returns

Cirrostratus offer free accounts for those VAT registered businesses or people who submit Self Assessment returns who are joining Making Tax Digital. There may be a limit on the number of free accounts and there may also be chargeable extras - but the free accounts will enable you to submit VAT or Self Assessment returns to HMRC.

Making Tax Digital is the new way of submitting tax information to HMRC. From April 2019 the majority of VAT registered businesses have been required to start using Making Tax Digital compatible software to submit the VAT return. There are some exceptions. The main one is being below the registration threshold. For more information read the government's web page about this. Additionally Cirrostratus can provide software for Self Assessment returns. These are not currently mandatory.

Cirrostratus have developed software, using their Exedra Universal Communications platform, which allows people to submit VAT returns and obtain VAT information using their service. The same server also handles Self Assessment and allows accountants, book keepers and other agents to use the Agents API and handle AML processes

Objectives of Exedra MTD API

Efficiency and Minimal Change:The Exedra system has a submission system. This means it takes information from a file or spreadsheet to submit the VAT return. There is no need to change all of a companies accounting systems, merely to get a spreadsheet with the correct values (which is then mapped to the VAT return and uploaded.) We also have an MTD enabled Cloud Cashbook which keeps accounting records for VAT and Self Assessment.

Low Cost (basic service is free): Apart from reducing the cost of having to change system (which is not just a cost of software and hardware, but also the cost of disruption to a business of changing system - ask TSB if you need to know more about this) the Cirrostratus API (Application Programming Interface) will be free for the basic service (which is sufficient to do the job). (price list)

Free Accounts (for the basic service)

Cirrostratus provide their services on what is called a "freemium" basis. The basic service is free. The basic service is and will be sufficient to enable submissions to be made to HMRC. There will, however, be additional services which will be chargable. However, those people who open early accounts with Cirrostratus will be given some premium services for free.

Important points about joining MTD (for VAT and Self Assessment): Please note these points

  • HMRC ask you to confirm by asking"Do you have accounting software for managing your VAT records?"that you have compatible software. If you open up an account on our server and have some electronic way of keeping accounting information (such as a spreadsheet or you intend to use our cloud cashbook) you can answer that question as "yes". A similar set of questions exist for Self Assessment
  • If you pay by direct debit (VAT only) you need have an application agreed to join the pilot 7 working days (more than a week) before your filing date.
  • Joining Self Assessment is a lot easier and faster, but not everyone can join as yet.

Click here to sign up with HMRC for MTD - VAT (this has to be done before you can use MTD for VAT)

Click here to sign up with HMRC for MTD - Income Tax Self Assessment (this has to be done before you can use MTD for Self Assessment)

When can people use the Cirrostratus service to submit VAT returns or Self Assessment returns?


For Self Assessment we ask that you talk to us via email prior to submitting returns (just for now). For VAT you can just set up an account and start using the system.

If you have any questions email

How can I open an account?

Click Here.

How exactly do we create digital links

With our experience of submitting data to HMRC we are building up information on creating Digital Links so that spreadsheet users can create a legally compliant accounting system

What about companies that don't use spreadsheets

We have some clients that are writing the digital link CSV file from their accounting system. We don't mind whether it comes from a spreadsheet or an accounting system. Details are on creating Digital Links and non-spreadsheet users can create a legally compliant accounting system by creating the CSV file from their accounting system

Whats this thing about anti-fraud headers?

All Anti Fraud headers are included. These are mandatory from April 2019. Cirrostratus also do two factor authentication (a text message to your mobile phone or something like that). HMRC have now said that TFA is not as yet mandatory, but if you use Cirrostratus two factor authentication is already implemented. We have, however, made it optional to fit with HMRC.

Flat Rate Scheme (FRS) - we can do it

The Flat Rate scheme has caused particular concerns because some of the cloud accounting providers cannot do FRS submissions. We can do FRS submissions. The Flat Rate Scheme is live as part of the pilot scheme and we have already submitted live Flat Rate data. The cloud cashbook does a full Flat Rate Submission.

Partial Exemption VAT - we can do it

As part of the general principle that we can do pretty well anything that anyone else can do we can do partial exemption VAT submissions. We are not as yet aware of anything that needs to be done in terms of MTD VAT submissions that we don't do. The easiest way to confirm this is to try a submission. Don't be put off by the fact that we don't charge that much. Our software has a number of different options and can run on lots of different computers.

SAF-T transaction reporting (Standard Audit File for Tax)

Standard Audit File for Tax is an OECD standard on tax reporting. We can produce SAF-T reports, but this website is primarily about UK tax reporting requirements. If you are interested in SAF-T reporting please email us at

Making Tax Digital implementation forum

We have launched a forum in which people can ask questions and get responses about the implementation of Making Tax Digital (particularly for spreadsheet users). That forum is to be found Here.This is an explanation of how the basic submission process works in a video. You will see that the submission process itself takes about 20 seconds. That includes sending an authorisation code to a mobile phone and typing it into our system. Although this video has a schedule for Input and Output VAT our assumption is that you will get that information from your current accounting system (from a spreadsheet or a file) rather than keeping a separate VAT accounting system.

Basic Books - online cashbook now available - ideal for businesses with under 500 transactions per period

Cirrostratus have also produced an online cashbook. This is not exciting software like our competitors, but a simple online cashbook that just does the job. It does the tax accounting (for both Self Assessment and VAT) and links to Making Tax Digital. It has the advantage of not being flexible, so you don't have to work out how to change it or set it up. You just click and it is there. It is also good value for money (at the moment Free). If people want to try this out they are welcome to do so. All you have to do is to open an account and then when you can open a cashbook on the page that deals with a particular business. It on a cash basis or standard vat accounting, but it handles flat rate, retail and margin schemes for VAT as well as traditional VAT and handles EC vat. It also handles Domestic Reverse Charge for the construction industry and tracks CIS payments. It handles self employment and other self assessment records for individuals, but does not at the moment handle FRC Taxonomies.

What about manual Handwritten Accounts

Cirrostratus are working on software which will take photographs of handwritten accounts from sources such as Collins Books and create legally compliant MTD for VAT accounts. This will not be for free and it depends upon the physical books being used and the quality of the handwriting. For more information email us. We are currently in discussion with HMRC about how to do this in a fully compliant manner.

High Contrast Mode - improved Accessibility

If you would like the pages in High Contrast Mode install the Chrome High Contrast Extension. Then the system will recognise when you are using high contrast and will change the colours of items on the page so that they are more suited to high contrast. If you are using an operating system high contrast intervention then enable Chrome High Contrast, but with a normal colour scheme.

Click here to go to the Cirrostratus youtube channel for other training videos

How to do MTD (Making Tax Digital) without upgrading your computer system