Countdown to the end of HMRC’s ‘soft landing’

Here is the first of a series of articles discussing the ramifications of the end of HMRC’s transitional ‘soft landing’ period.

Since April 2011 it has been mandatory to convert all UK Corporation Tax accounts data into the iXBRL (inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language) format prior to filing with HMRC.

Why was iXBRL introduced?

In common with many other taxation, banking and government regulatory bodies throughout the world, HMRC needed to take steps to tighten their monitoring of the financial affairs of the UK corporate world.  Given this imperative, HMRC recognised the value of introducing XBRL technology to streamline that process, to simplify financial investigation and analysis, and allow anomalies in financial reports to be highlighted more easily.

Why did HMRC introduce the ‘soft landing’?

As the move to iXBRL represented a radical change in the filing process, HMRC sought to make its new reporting regime more acceptable by introducing a two year transitional period, known as the ‘soft landing’.  This was designed to give companies, and the software vendors that service them, maximum opportunity to prepare for the changes.  However, this interim period expires at the end of March 2013.

Exactly what is the ‘soft landing’?

There are misunderstandings about what the ‘soft landing’ means for filers.   It was introduced as an interim step to allow companies to become familiar with the iXBRL tagging process.  HMRC’s main provision was that in the two years following the introduction of the iXBRL mandate they would not investigate organisations solely on the basis of poor quality tagging.

‘Soft landing’ versus the Minimum Tagging List

There has been much confusion about the ‘soft landing’ and its relationship to the Minimum Tagging List (MTL).

First of all, let’s look at the MTL.  Be aware that there are three levels at which iXBRL tagging can be applied:

  1. Tagging a minimum number of concepts:  there are 13 obligatory concepts that, if tagged correctly, will allow the filed accounts to pass the HMRC gateway.
  2. Tagging according to the Minimum Tagging List:  this contains around 1,300 tags available for use, though most companies will on average use around 100 different tags.
  3. Full tagging:  this offers the user up to 5,000 tags from which to choose.

Although HMRC recently announced that it will not be removing the MTL in favour of full tagging in 2013, as was originally expected to happen, the ‘soft landing’ itself will terminate at the end of March 2013.

How does this affect Seahorse®?

Seahorse, CoreFiling’s iXBRL accounts conversion system, covers all the options – and opportunities – that will arise, when the ‘soft landing’ ends.   From the starting point in April 2011, the product was fully ready for use, and over the past two years it has progressively been enhanced to give greater usability, time-savings and improvements to the accuracy of the tags being applied.  Unlike some competitive products, Seahorse has from the outset offered the opportunity to tag according to the MTL or to use the full UK GAAP and IFRS taxonomies, so users need have absolutely no cause for concern about the future.

Avoid an uncertain future by using Seahorse to tag your accounts.

iXBRL tagging efficiency by design

If you ask the majority of accountants what effect the second year of iXBRL tagging has had on their business, I imagine that most would respond that it’s still taking an inordinate amount of time and effort and that there’s no appreciable difference from the first year.

Contrast this with the experiences of Seahorse users.  Many have discovered that they now need less manpower to complete the conversion of their clients’ second year accounts because of the efficiencies built into the system.   Second year tagging is just so much simpler, faster and cost effective.

So, what makes the difference?  It’s all down to the Seahorse SaaS approach.

Firstly, there’s the ability to re-use tags from last year’s Word or Excel documents, so you don’t have to start again from scratch.  Seahorse indicates where tags have been reapplied as well as automatically making suggestions for any concepts appearing for the first time.

The SaaS approach also means that the suggestions are constantly improving, so you really do reap the reward of having a system that learns from the cumulative tagging decisions of all the accounting professionals who have used it to convert their documents.

Finally, it’s simply a much more agile way of ensuring that any changes to taxonomies or validation rules are implemented immediately and without fuss.  Since the mandate came into force there has been at least one corrective taxonomy release plus additional changes to the Gateway process, but as far as Seahorse is concerned any modifications are implemented in the ‘cloud’, so it all happens seamlessly.  There’s no new version of the software to download, and no impact on the tagging team.

So, with inbuilt tagging efficiency, constant improvements and an eye toward making things simpler to use, Seahorse is the perfect solution.

Less manpower, greater efficiency.  Why use anything else?

How automated is your re-use of last year’s iXBRL tagging decisions?

Speed up the tagging process in year two and the creation of filings for companies in the same corporate group.

Seahorse makes excellent use of existing tags.  It can re-use existing tagged documents as the basis for this year’s filings, even if those documents contain only a couple of similar pages and on the surface look rather different.  Seahorse is intelligent enough to recognise the matching pages and automatically re-uses the existing tags in the new document.  Remember that the rest of the document will then be automatically tagged, leaving you just to confirm the confidence-rated suggestions.  It will certainly save you time and give you much higher quality documents.

Seahorse, the automatic choice.

Vast amount of iXBRL tagging knowledge at your fingertips

Seahorse’s learning engine has accumulated an abundance of iXBRL tagging knowledge distilled from the thousands of Word and Excel accounts uploaded to our cloud-based system since the start of the HMRC mandate.

Why is this important?

It means that Seahorse’s tagging suggestions are constantly refined in line with our clients’ professional accounting expertise.  You benefit from more confident suggestions to help you review and confirm the appropriate tags.  It’s quick, easy and accurate.

Get the Seahorse advantage for your business!

Bad iXBRL tagging experience? Switching to Seahorse® is easy

Many accountants have told us that the iXBRL tagging solutions they chose in the first year have proved unsatisfactory, making the conversion process very painful.  There were lots of reasons behind this:  some processes were too complicated, others overly time-consuming, many more not intuitive enough.  Consequently, many businesses struggled to comply with the HMRC iXBRL mandate.

If this was your experience last year, it’s probably time for a change.

Switching to Seahorse doesn’t mean starting from scratch, as all tables in your document will be automatically tagged using Seahorse’s unique suggestion engine

Tagging accounts can seem an onerous task, but Seahorse makes it really easy to tag both tables and text in Word or Excel documents.  Behind Seahorse lies a powerful ‘learning engine’ that automatically provides confidence-graded tagging suggestions.  You’ll benefit from all the tagging that was put through the system last year, as Seahorse’s suggestions are based on its cumulative knowledge of all similar tagging decisions made by the Seahorse user community.  As it’s a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution, it learns from thousands of accounts, not only the ones you have tagged, leading to constantly improving suggestions and exceptional help with your tagging process.  This dramatically reduces the time taken to tag your Word or Excel documents.

Being an internet based solution there’s no IT overhead, no software to install, no software updates and no maintenance worries.  Taxonomies will always be up to date.

And if you’re wondering what happens in subsequent years, rest assured that Seahorse retains all the tags you choose, so they can be easily reapplied to make the process even faster and simpler in the future.

Avoid the pain, harness Seahorse.

Year two tagging – how fast can you go?

We again return to the subject of year two tagging.    We’ve talked in the past about how Seahorse can re-apply the tagging decisions already selected and confirmed in previous years’ tables and text.  The issue today is speed of tagging –  making the process as fast and painless as possible.

Seahorse has extended the ‘roll-forward’ process still further to make tagging even faster.

Both comments and footnotes can now be carried forward and reapplied in a similar way, simplifying the task further.  Comments are transferred without the need for any user input, and footnotes can be confirmed in the same way as other tags.

Accelerating the process still further, there’s now an automatic confirmation option.  So, where there are exact matches between table rows and columns in both previous and current documents, Seahorse can reapply the tags automatically without the need for manual intervention.

Just in case you were wondering, discretionary use of this facility is available, so you still retain full control over whether or not to deploy automatic confirmation of identical data.  However, we think that many users are likely to opt for this extra time saving measure.

How long will it take to tag your year two accounts?

Did you file early to avoid the April 2011 iXBRL filing deadline?

Perhaps you successfully circumvented the original HMRC iXBRL filing mandate by submitting last year’s Corporation Tax returns early to avoid the April deadline.  If so, converting your accounts documents to iXBRL must now be on the agenda.  What are the options? Well, if you’ve a number of accounts that you are already producing in Word or Excel, why change your process?  Take a look at the advantages of Seahorse.

First of all, there’s help in choosing the appropriate iXBRL tags. Seahorse automatically tags the tables in your Word or Excel document and proposes the most appropriate tag to use.  Its intelligent tagging engine harnesses the accumulated learning from all the filings put through the Seahorse system, so its suggestions continue to become more and more refined over time.  There’s no need to trawl through the underlying taxonomy to find the tag you need.

If you have a number of accounts to tag within the same group company you can re-use your initial tagging decisions to swiftly create iXBRL documents for additional sets of accounts.

And if you have a formal review and sign-off process for your accounts, Seahorse lets you easily create a spreadsheet that automatically captures all the tagging decisions made and allows comments to be inserted, for example to explain why particular concepts have not been tagged.

Finally, Seahorse is provided over the internet, so you can use it straight from your browser, avoiding the expense of new infrastructure or purchasing a full-blown accounts preparation package and, because the whole process remains under your control, you don’t have to risk sending your data to third parties.

Seahorse remains one of the very few solutions to have experienced no problems passing the HMRC gateway first time.  Why? Because not only does it incorporate validation against the Joint Filing Common Validation Checks imposed by HMRC and Companies House, but the underlying XBRL and iXBRL is fully verified during the Seahorse conversion process.

Seahorse takes away the pain of iXBRL conversion of Word and Excel accounts.

What could be simpler?

Seahorse travels the world – next stop Denmark

The momentum around iXBRL continues to accelerate.  Denmark is the latest country to mandate iXBRL as the platform for financial reporting.  Adopting a phased approach starting in June 2012, the official register for Danish companies, the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency (DCCA), will require all companies to file in iXBRL format.

The good news for Danish companies is that Seahorse offers full support for the new Danish GAAP taxonomies and caters for a number of requirements specific to the Danish market, including full verification of both XBRL and iXBRL against DCCA validation rules.

Seahorse speeds up year 2 HMRC filing

 

With the starting month for year 2 iXBRL filing rapidly approaching, Seahorse can help you dramatically reduce the time taken to tag this years’ accounts. If you’ve already been converting documents to iXBRL using Seahorse, you can now migrate the tags from your existing accounts to the next year’s accounts, without losing any of your original tagging decisions. Seahorse will still auto-tag any remaining items not contained in the earlier document. The migrated items should already be correct from the previous year’s filing, so very few changes should be required. As a result, the review process will be shorter and the whole year 2 tagging procedure will take significantly less time now that you don’t have to start again from scratch.

As an added bonus, you can also re-use your tagging decisions to speed up the tagging of accounts for several different companies within the same corporate group.

 

Seahorse iXBRL tagging of Excel accounts released

As promised in early September, the new version of Seahorse has just been released, providing full conversion of Microsoft Excel accounts to iXBRL format, ready for HMRC Corporation Tax filing.

There’s no need to change the way you currently work. Just take your Excel accounts document and let Seahorse apply the appropriate iXBRL tags. The process replicates the same automatic tagging approach that has been so successful in the conversion of Word accounts. It also features the same ‘round-tripping’ functionality that allows you to make changes to your accounts outside Seahorse and then re-import the Excel document back into Seahorse without losing any pre-existing tags.

A fully validated iXBRL document emerges, ready for submission to HMRC as part of your CT filing.

So, don’t change your existing process. Let Seahorse simplify and streamline your tagging of Excel documents.

License Seahorse through our partners.