> I don't understand the article as an American
In the UK, when businesses buy something for use in the business they still have to pay the VAT (a sales tax). Roll all the VAT charges of stuff bought, and call it amount A.
That business then sells something (product/service) to someone or some other business - they then charge this tax to their customer. Roll all these taxes up and call it amount B.
Some items are exempt from VAT charges (e.g. train tickets when you buy them, bank fees), it's not completely trivial to work it all out, but it's not rocket scientist and a lot of folks just build an Excel spreadsheet to do it for them
At the end of every quarter (or possibly annually), the company then pays (receives) the amount (B-A) to the govmt (or receives a refund if it's negative).
Currently, the online tax return form has at most 7 numbers to fill in (to also account for sales to/purchases from the EU), and it's a piece of piss to log in to the govmt website, go to the "Submit VAT return" area, fill those numbers in, and click Submit.
Govmt, in its infinite wisdom, are "Making Tax Digital" by insisting on building a moderately simple API into this, not providing software that uses it, and trusting "free enterprise" to provide these tools to businesses to submit these returns - as part of this the manual entry method will be closed off to businesses. This is particularly painful for small businesses as it potentially adds further accounting charges to buy/maintain software that provides access to this API, when it's just a simple task anyway.
Also, this is probably just the start of a "modernisation" of VAT reporting - currently it is only mandatory for companies with revenue over a particular threshold, but it will eventually get rolled out to every business, and I wouldn't be surprised if the reporting requirements eventually expand to actually submitting your individual business transactions to the govmt, rather than what is effectively summary data.
All this in the name of "making it simpler for business, with lower likelihood of mistakes" (it isn't), and "making fraud investigations simpler" (I can see this if the auditing tools were developed well on the solution with all the transactions uploaded, but equally I can see them being completely fucked up and falsely identifying loads of folks as fraudsters).
But you'll end up with a massive govmt database of every business transaction, which of course could never be abused...