FreeAgent is a web-based application which helps small UK businesses manage their finances. The company is based in Edinburgh.
Given that I was already a customer of theirs, I thoroughly enjoyed working with them to help shape a product that I use to run my business.
The UK government recently introduced its Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative. The first stage of MTD meant that from April 2019 all businesses over the VAT threshold would have to submit their VAT returns digitally.
Even though FreeAgent already submitted VAT returns digitally as part of their product, the implementation of this had to be completely revamped to use HMRC’s new MTD API.
It was also an opportunity for FreeAgent to attract new customers looking for accounting software due to MTD.
Within the application, users had to connect their FreeAgent account to their HMRC account via an OAuth authorisation.
Once connected, VAT returns could be filed directly to HMRC through the new API.
The main challenge of this project was having to support 2 different mechanisms for submitting returns concurrently, whilst trying to gradually convert users to use the new mechanism.
We also have a large number of accountants using the application on behalf of their clients. This meant we had to assist them in moving all of their clients over to MTD as well.
The hard-deadline imposed by the regulation meant we had to work quickly in order to give our users as much time as possible to get set up.
We structured the code so it could easily be extended to support future MTD submission requirements - such as income or corporation tax.
The feature was delivered successfully ahead of time, and users were migrated over without disruption to ongoing VAT submissions.
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