What is Making Tax Digital for Income Tax?
Definition of Making Tax Digital for Income Tax
Making Tax Digital (MTD) for Income Tax, also known as Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA) is a new way for self-employed business owners and landlords to report earnings and pay Income Tax. MTD for Income Tax is part of the government’s wider Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative.
When does MTD for Income Tax begin and who will it affect?
HMRC has advised that MTD for Income Tax will come into effect from 6th April 2026. Self-employed individuals and landlords with a total business or property income above £50,000 per year will have to comply with MTD for Income Tax from that date.
Those with an income of more than £30,000 will have to follow the rules from April 2027. Partnerships will be required to join at a date yet to be announced.
Eligible individuals have been able to sign up to MTD for Income Tax voluntarily since 2018 as part of a pilot scheme.
What are the MTD for Income Tax rules?
From 6th April 2026, all affected self-employed individuals and landlords with an annual business or property income of more than £50,000 will need to:
- sign up for MTD for Income Tax via HMRC’s website
- keep digital business records
- use MTD-compliant accounting software such as FreeAgent
- send quarterly business income and expenses updates to HMRC through the software
- finalise the business’s income in a declaration which confirms that the updates sent are correct, and make any accounting adjustments
- submit this final declaration to HMRC. This will replace the annual Self Assessment tax return.
How often will affected businesses have to send digital updates and what will they include?
Under MTD for Income Tax, instead of sending a Self Assessment tax return to HMRC once a year, business owners and landlords will submit quarterly summary updates of their income and expenditure, followed by a final declaration at the end of the year.
Our MTD for Income Tax interactive tool can tell you whether the rules will apply to you and when your submissions will be due.
Quarterly summaries will include details of the income and expenses for each self-employment and property business during each quarterly period. The standard quarterly periods in each tax year are:
- 6th April to 5th July
- 6th July to 5th October
- 6th October to 5th January
- 6th January to 5th April
Business owners and landlords can choose to submit updates that are based on calendar quarters instead of the standard quarterly periods. The calendar quarters are:
- 1st April to 30th June
- 1st July to 30th September
- 1st October to 31st December
- 1st January to 31st March
The deadlines for submitting quarterly updates are the same regardless of whether the business’s updates are based on standard quarterly periods or on calendar quarters. These deadlines are:
- 5th August
- 5th November
- 5th February
- 5th May
The quarterly updates will give business owners and landlords a year-to-date calculation of how much tax they owe, based on the information provided in the summary.
Affected business owners and landlords will also be required to use their accounting software to finalise their overall tax position at the end of the year. They will have to add any relevant details about personal income and tax reliefs and include an end of period statement (EOPS). The final declaration will replace the Self Assessment tax return.
The deadline for finalising tax affairs and paying Income Tax isn’t changing. As with the current Self Assessment system, business owners will need to do both by 31st January of the following tax year. For example, for the 2026-27 tax year, business owners and landlords will have to submit their final declaration and pay their tax bill by midnight on 31st January 2028.
Businesses and landlords are required to use MTD-compatible accounting software that connects to HMRC’s systems to keep digital business records and make the required tax submissions. FreeAgent supports MTD for VAT and it's on HMRC's list of compatible software for MTD for Income Tax for businesses. This means that if you're a business owner, you'll be able to use FreeAgent to follow the rules of MTD for Income Tax and make the required tax submissions.
We're working closely with HMRC to ensure that FreeAgent will support MTD for Income Tax submissions for property through FreeAgent for Landlords - a brand new version of our software that's built specifically for landlords - before the legislation comes into effect.
Responsibilities for accountants and bookkeepers
As with MTD for VAT, accountants and bookkeepers will have to set up an Agent Services Account (ASA) in order to submit updates on behalf of their clients.
An important role for accountants and bookkeepers will be to ensure that their clients are aware of their responsibilities regarding MTD for Income Tax and are fully prepared for the change.
Find out more about how FreeAgent is helping accountants and bookkeepers prepare for MTD.