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The government’s decision to delay the scheme, announced last week after vigorous lobbying by BADA and other small business trade bodies, was welcomed by dealers and sole traders. Quarterly reporting was axed from the Finance Bill, the final bill to be passed before the General Election in June.

There are hopes that the scheme, called ‘Making tax digital’ because it also requires filing returns digitally rather than on paper, will be shelved altogether after the election.

“Quarterly reporting would have meant spending all our time doing figures and not selling antiques,” Neil Shepperson, director of Mary Cooke Antiques, told ATG.

“It would create havoc. Accountants would have to be paid four or five times a year rather than once. And selling antiques is such a seasonal business, with some dealers showing a loss in the summer quarter, that they would look unhealthy by filing a return then.”

The uneven, seasonal cash flow of dealer businesses was a key plank in BADA’s representation to HMRC. The requirement to file digitally rather than by post was also cited as an extra strain on antique dealers.

Small businesses currently file returns once a year, with a choice of doing so by post or via the internet.

BADA CEO Marco Forgione called the delay “a victory for common sense, a victory for the determined campaign and most importantly a victory for all small businesses, especially the fine art and antique sector, which would have been particularly badly hit”.