Making Tax Digital & the need for a mediator

Rev Norman Smyth

23.7.2022 | Mission in Ireland, Farming & Rural Life

Rev Norman Smyth writes that farmers often need to develop new skills, including those for submitting VAT returns in line with HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative. He says that you can go only so far until you need the help of special software and someone who knows how to use it. Norman writes that you might call that person a ‘mediator’. While VAT returns are important, the need for the Mediator – Jesus Christ – is a different kind of ‘important’ entirely. Someone we all have a much more serious need of.

Every now and then the farmer has a new skill to learn to keep their business up with the modern world. The latest of these skills is the submitting of VAT returns in compliance with HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD) initiative.

Thankfully there has been help on hand to learn how to make this shift. Accountants have offered to take farmer’s books of inputs and outputs to process them. There is a long list of accounting packages on the HMRC’s website each vying for customers to put their faith in them to digitize their records and tax information.

The need for a Mediator

Workshops organised by CAFRE and Rural Support (which were very helpful) have encouraged farmers to do as much as they can themselves, but at the very least, bridging software is needed to link values from your spreadsheet to the HMRC portal. One thing is therefore crystal clear - it is not possible to make your VAT submissions directly to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs without the help of special software and someone who knows how to use it. You might say, you need a ‘mediator’. Ignoring MTD is not an option and will end in hefty fines!

We all have a much more serious need of a mediator than this. Our sins make us debtors to God. The Apostle Paul warns us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). He also tells us in Romans 14:12, “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” In advance, we are warned not to arrive at that day thinking we are good enough to get into heaven as we are.

The prophet Isaiah gives us this reality check “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). There is no good deed or religious observance that we can perform that will make amends for us. Our only hope is to turn to the Mediator. Thankfully, God has provided such us with one – Jesus.

One God and one Mediator

As Paul tells us, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). While there are many people and software packages that can help us link to the HMRC portal, there is only one man who can reconcile us to God the Father - and that is Jesus.

Jesus has bridged the chasm between sinners and God by His work on the cross. He died a sacrificial death to take the punishment for all our transgressions of God’s Holy Law. He then rose from the dead and today Jesus fulfils the role of mediator by defending those who believe in Him for salvation, and arguing that they are innocent because He has paid their sin-debt.

No other person, living or dead can do this. He alone can guarantee us eternal life and entry one day through heaven’s portal. So the question is, have you asked Jesus to open that spiritual door for you? You don’t need any special words, simply admit to Him all your sins, believe in His power and willingness to forgive you, and commit the rest of your life to the “Lord of Lords and the King of Kings” (Revelation 17:14).

Rev Norman Smyth is married to Linda and they have three children. The son of a County Antrim dairy farmer, he is the minister of First and Second Markethill in County Armagh.

His blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’, in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.

You can read Norman's contributions, and look at other reflections in this series of blogs, here.

You can look at other blogs in this series here. If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at or call him on 07938 488 372.

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