HMRC forces XBRL for compulsory online company tax returns


HMRC forces XBRL for compulsory online company tax returns

Ian Grant

All company tax returns and payments must be sent in online using either XBRL or iXBRL (Inline) data formats from April 2011, HM Revenue & Customs said on Thursday.

The changes affect all organisations that pay corporation tax, including limited companies clubs, societies, associations, co-operatives, charities and other unincorporated bodies.


Companies will be able to file online using commercially available software or by using HMRC's own corporate tax filing software, which is aimed at companies with less complex tax affairs.

HMRC and Companies House have also launched a new joint filing service for company accounts. This allows companies with relatively straightforward financial affairs, or their agents, to send their accounts in iXBRL format to HMRC as part of their Company Tax Return, and also send them or a cut-down version to Companies House.

This service requires registration for HMRC Online Services and enrolment for Corporation Tax Online. Firms can then use HMRC's Corporation Tax Online filing software to submit their accounts to both organisations using a template. For more information go here.

Based on XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language), XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) is a computer-readable format for financial data. It tags each data item (text or numbers) in a document. Inline XBRL lets people read XBRL. It guarantees that the layout and presentation of information looks the same for both the author and the person receiving it, whether it is being viewed online or as a printout.

XBRL saves time and cost and improves accuracy and reliability in the preparation, analysis, representation and communication of business information. This allows companies to recover their set-up costs over time, HMRC says.

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