Digital business shouldn’t be taxing

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Got brass in pocket? Then you are old school. A colleague of mine hasn’t carried any cash for the past 18 months and is unlikely to revert to his cash-carrying ways.

Whether it’s to purchase a coffee or to buy drinks on a night out, he does it all using a payment app on his phone. The only time he was caught short for cash was to at a charity function that required cash for a game of 'heads or tails’. To save his embarrassment, he borrowed £20 from a friend, paying him instantly back by transferring funds into his account using his online banking app there and then.

Millennials function without notes all the time and probably view hard cash in the same way they view the use of compact discs to listen to music – why would you need to use a physical disc when you can listen to whatever music you want, at the time you want while on the move, hassle-free, online?

Wish cash machines being removed at the rate of 250 a month, and branches of banks disappearing from many high streets, there’s hard evidence showing the wider economy is doing exactly the same.

Most businesses and individuals are already banking, paying bills and interacting online. Yet this not in all sectors - it has been reported that fewer than four in 10 agri-farm businesses in Scotland are producing the bookkeeping data required for Making Tax Digital, HMRC’s new digital tax filing system.

The survey by Johnston Carmichael found that more than one in three didn’t know if their accounts were being recorded in the correct format, and 60 per cent of farm businesses have yet to move to digital record keeping.

Is the digital divide in society based on demographics? Younger people who haven’t known life without the world wide web generally embrace technology and all that it offers.

Broadband access and speed in rural areas may have been a barrier in the past, but this is improving and advancing all the time.

Do some people still lack faith in the online world? It’s good to see agencies working to help businesses gain cyber-confidence. Like Highlands and Islands Enterprise partnering with Business Gateway to run a programme helping business owners in its region boost their knowledge and awareness of digital technology.

The free digital health check helped over 300 entrepreneurs in its first year with guidance on everything from cloud computing to social media marketing and e-commerce websites.

Businesses would be wise to heed the call of our digital economic revolution. Our new digital age offers a competitive advantage, and new opportunities, through new ways to engage with customers, innovative ways of working and opportunities to harness data insights.

We live in a digital age, it’s no longer about staying ahead of the game, it’s about embracing our digital future with all its changes and new developments to ensure you don’t lose out.