Documentation on Making Tax Digital using Manager

It is unclear from reading a number of posts regarding MTD exactly what the position of Manager Software is with regards to MTD.

  1. I heard mention of an API that will make manager MTD compliant. How do I use this api as I don’t see it in the program?

  2. Failing an api, what is the procedure to get VAT from Manager to HMRC in a MTD manner. You cannot simply copy data from Manager into a MTD compliant program?

Could you please urgently address this issue as I am a bit concerned that it’s now April 2019 and it would appear that Manager is not MTD capable and there is no Manager MTD documentation on this.

Thank you

Currently, there is no official solution. I think the best way forward is to pick one or more bridging software solutions and make Manager export data to the format which can be understood by bridging software.

This is the same approach I’m planning to implement for other countries where digital lodgement is becoming compulsory.

Is there a bridging software for MTD which is available for free or has generous free plan?

It’s a matter of going through software list here: and find one or more free (or freeish) solutions such as (this one is 10 GBP per company per year).

I am happy to use bridging software as I suspect that this is the only solution for Manager in that you need MTD for UK and digital invoices in Italy and single touchpayroll in Aus etc.

However, Manager needs to have an api or something where bridging software can pull data from Manager or to have a digital export functionality in that Manager can be designed to export into excel or xml etc.

At the moment, I believe that the export option is not exporting all the information required.

Bridging software is not the issue - it’s getting the data transferred digitally from manager to the bridging software that is the main problem. If you can work on a digital export feature that can be used for MTD, Digital Invoices and Single Touch Payroll and whatever else other countries are rolling out, this would solve all the issues.

Basically I think I am asking for an enhanced export feature or an api to push data to the external software.

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I had personal assurances, that manager will be compliant by Apr 2019. This is not a solution I expected with URL and advice “please work it out yourselves”.

Can we get a little bit more specifics please:

  • What is the plan to make it compliant? and timeline.
  • What is solution for interim period until manager will become compliant?

There is going to be new functionality by end of this week which will allow to export data from Manager in the exact format bridging software requires so MTD should be a matter of copy / pasting from one system to another.


Lubos -
The one fundamental thing which is outlawed under the MTD legislation is copying and pasting ; that is non-digital human intervention in the process, which is precisely what MTD is trying to cut out. Just so you are aware.

Importantly, I should add the following. Excel is allowed by HMRC so long as it has an API add-in which allows Excel to interface with HMRC and there are several such add-ins available on the UK market for an insignificant cost ( such as 1Click ). Currently, to export the tax summary from Manager to Excel, we have to click on ‘export’, then copy and paste the data across. That manual copy/paste is not compliant with MTD. However, if the export feature in Manager could be enhanced so that clicking on an ‘Export to Excel’ button auto-booted Excel and dumped the tax summary data into Excel, then that would be MTD compliant. It may be a bit of a bodge, but it would allow users of Manager to stay users of Manager ( I doubt anybody really wants to switch packages ).

I concur. The whole point of MTD is that there is no copying/pasting done by anyone as this allows for errors to creep in via typos etc. Manager needs to export to excel in a format where you change nothing in excel and using a bridging program that can read the excel data the information is imported into HMRC. Copying and pasting is not going to be allowed as the whole point is to remove human error in the form of typos etc.

My understanding copy/pasting is allowed as long as you are not required to change anything.

In other words, if Manager outputs XML, CSV or whatever format which can be understood by bridging software, then the solution is MTD compliant.

Anyway, the latest version has new concept called Report Transformations which makes it possible to generate data (CSV, XML etc.) in exact format bridging software will understand.

The last step is to select bridging software so we can create report transformation which will produce data in exact format bridging software expects. This is exactly what I’m doing for STP (Single Touch Payroll) in Australia.

No my accountant confirmed this point. You cannot copy and paste. The whole idea is to remove the human error as in typos, putting into the wrong column etc. So manager needs to output to xml, csv or whatever exactly as the bridging software needs to see it and the bridging software uploads to HMRC.

I will have a look at the report transformations and see if that will work. I have not done a MTD return yet, but my presumption would be that it needs the exact same fields as you see in VAT Calculation Worksheet. But I don’t know as I will only be doing a MTD vat return end of June.

You can copy & paste individual figures or copy & paste CSV or XML data.

If you copy & paste individual figures, then this is not acceptable. I’m talking about copy pasting CSV or XML data which is acceptable as per HMRC.


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I have been biting my lip as far as this thread (and others) are concerned, but for what it’s worth here’s my penny-worth.

In a nutshell @Lubos is absolutely correct.

The notion or belief about copying and pasting as expressed in many of the above posts is perhaps I think, simply an example of the way that people often over-think something (very much a ‘UK disease’ in my own experience),
What people need to do is look at the actual documentation and understand what is being said, not what they think might be said which in turn is causing them to jump to incorrect conclusions.

The relevant parts of the guidelines are

HMRC also accepts that the following are digital links:

  • emailing a spreadsheet containing digital records so the information can be imported into another software product
  • transferring a set of digital records onto a portable device (for example, a pen drive, memory stick, flash drive) and physically giving this to someone else who then imports that data into their software
  • XML, CSV import and export, and download and upload of files
  • automated data transfer
  • API transfer
    This list is not exhaustive.

HMRC does not consider the use of ‘cut and paste’ or ‘copy and paste’ to select and move information, either within a software program or between software programs, to be a digital link.

This is a bit flawed and drawn up by someone with little knowledge of IT. What is to stop the user from opening and manipulating the CSV or XML file en route - typical of bureaucratic nonsense. Either the process is digital from end to end or it isn’t. A halfway house of CSV or XML files is NOT digital

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I think that it would be very helpful if you would clarify what you and Lubos mean. Perhaps it would help to define what people mean by copying and pasting as perhaps people are using the term copying and pasting to refer to different things,

For example if I copy what I see in Manager’s VAT Calculation worksheet into excel, this is not per the text shown in joe91’s post. This is what I mean by copying and pasting.

If you mean copying by exporting from Manager into excel and then emailing that spreadsheet to someone (effectively making a copy) then that’s ok, because you are not actually doing any copying or pasting. You are coyping the file to a usb stick or sending to someone via email.

My understanding of MTD (apart from the real time information factor) is to prevent user error. Therefore I don’t understand the logic of having any ability to copy and paste anything as user errors would creep in as result, because people would paste it in the wrong column or sheet in csv etc.

What I think should happen is that you click export in Manager and it creates an csv file and then you open the bridging software and tell it to upload that file to HMRC. You should not need to open the CSV file to change anything in it.

So can you and Lubos clarify what you mean by copying/pasting xml or csv data and where exactly HMRC says that this is allowed as everywhere I have read - HMRC distinctly states -

HMRC does not consider the use of ‘cut and paste’ or ‘copy and paste’ to select and move information, either within a software program or between software programs, to be a digital link


Line which mentions “XML, CSV import and export” covers that.

XML export = copy XML from Manager to clipboard
XML import = paste XML from clipboard to MTD bridging software

But sure, Manager can also let you save XML into a file, then you can upload the file to MTD bridging software - it’s exactly the same thing.

Not to mention, it’s possible for MTD bridging software to retrieve data directly using Manager API but this is up to bridging software to implement.

Anyway, we are now at the point where Manager can integrate with MTD bridging software. Now it’s a matter to find one which is cross-platform (probably web-based) and allows CSV or XML import.

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Ok, I see where the confusion is. I don’t regard that as copying and pasting but simply exporting and importing. To me the terminology copying and pasting implies opening a program, selecting text within the program and right clicking copy and then somewhere else right clicking paste.

Yes you are correct, HMRC does allow exporting and importing, but I don’t think that they regard that as copying and pasting even if technically it’s copying to the clipboard. But maybe they do.

I think for the sake of clarity regard opening a program like excel, selecting text and right clicking copy and paste as what is meant by that and export and import to be something completely different so as to avoid confusion.

This is what I would recommend doing via your Report Transformations as I think this is the way to go. I am not seeing the value in copying to clipboard via export import. Rather create the file directly from the export,

The latest version (19.5.49) is providing official guidance on MTD.

Obviously you can use any MTD bridging software but I’ve decided to officially recommend

2 reasons:

  • It’s free for the first year
  • Doesn’t require spreadsheet program - you can upload CSV exported from Manager.

When you upgrade to the latest version, VAT Calculation Worksheet will contain yellow notice how to lodge using MTD including Export to CSV button which exports data in the exact format will accept.

By the way, if anybody wants to improve the look of VAT Calculation Worksheet or improve the look of the notice, you can edit the report by going to Report Transformations which is under Settings tab. To submit your changes so everybody can benefit, go to Settings, then click Export button and upload resulting XML file to GitHub project at


@lubos I am very impressed with Taxoptimiser. I have watched their videos and had a look at their website and I like the feel of the company. A small company with the personal touch, rather than a big corporation which really appeals to me.

I would add that a third reason to choose them is their gui is very well laid out and they make MTD very simple to use. It is a very well designed platform in my opinion.

The fourth reason to choose them is that it’s easy to see what vat you have paid, unpaid, etc. Very nice software and I like the fact that you have designed Manager’s export to work with one of their templates.

BUG Report: When I upgraded to the latest version of Manager to have a look at the VAT Calculation Worksheets export, I discovered that I had lost all my previous VAT Returns so that’s four years of VAT returns vanished. I am hoping that this is a bug and not intentional. I would like those reports back please.

@dalacor, can you check the latest version (19.5.51) to see if reports are back?

They have all returned home safe and sound, thank you. A relief to see them back again. Fixed! :grinning: