Making Tax Digital - User Guide

Chris Horroll
Chris Horroll
  • Updated


From April 2020 most VAT registered businesses with a turnover above £85,000 must keep their VAT records digitally and use Making Tax Digital compatible software to submit their VAT returns.

HMRC have introduced changes to Making Tax Digital for VAT which will affect how you transfer your accounts data between software packages. For more information on the legislation, visit the HMRC website and discuss the implications for your business with your company accountant.

To assist you with this legislation, Alto provides you with an export capability enabling you to transfer your accounts digitally. Features include:

  • Sage, Xero or Quickbooks formats
  • Cash accounting or Accrual accounting
  • Settings to enable you to configure as per your accountant’s needs
  • Ability to map Alto fee charges to your accounting package nominal codes
  • Ability to map Alto VAT rates to your accounting package VAT rate codes

You can export fees to a file formatted for subsequent direct import into your company accounts. All exports are retained and are accessible for digital traceability.

This article includes: 

Alto set-up

Details of any accounting packages you wish to export to, must be specified in Alto. We advise you to configure the export profiles in consultation with your company accountant.

Most agents will only need one export profile. If you have branches or groups of branches exporting to different accounts packages or using different accounting methods, you can create multiple export profiles.

  1. Click Tools on the main toolbar
  2. In the dropdown menu, click Templates and admin
  3. On the side menu, under System Tools, click System Administration
  4. Click Companies
  5. Click Edit alongside your company
  6. Scroll down and click Accounts Export Profiles
  7. Click Create New Profile and enter the following details:

Enter a name for this export profile

Export Format


Click any of the following options:

  • Sage
  • Xero
  • Quickbooks

Accounting Method

Click any of the following options:

  • Accrual
  • Cash
  • Accrual Summary
  • Cash Summary

Summary accounting – transactions will be summarised into a single item per nominal code and VAT category

Account ID or Customer Name

Enter the account or customer record in your accounting package to import into. 

When the accounting method is Summary, this is a required field. Your accounting package will import the summarised transactions into the account/customer record specified here.

For non-summary accounting, the transactions can be imported into the account/customer record specified here. 

Alternatively, if no account ID/customer name is specified, the contact name* on the original transaction will be used to match the Alto transaction to a record in your accounting software. We only recommend doing this if your business contacts are listed in your accounting software or creates them on import.

*Tenancy transactions use the lead tenant contact name. 

Invoice Number prefix

As not all transactions will have an invoice number at the point of export, we have used the transaction ID as the invoice number. For example, 11390993. If required, specify a prefix to apply to this number to avoid duplicate invoice numbers within your accounting package. 

Nominal Code Mappings

For each Alto fee charge item, enter the relevant nominal code from your accounting package.


The Management Fee code relates to commission on landlord income, for example Rent, and commission deducted from supplier payments

VAT Category Mappings

For each Alto VAT category, enter the relevant VAT code from your accounting package.


There are two reports included in the Property Management Financials Report Category:

  • Fee Export (Accrual)
  • Fee Export (Cash)
  1. Click Tools on the main toolbar
  2. In the dropdown menu, click Templates and admin
  3. On the side menu, under System Tools, click System Administration
  4. Click Reports
  5. Scroll down to the relevant report. Tick the exports you wish to use based on the accounting methods selected in your Accounts Export Profiles
  6. Click Reports on the main toolbar
  7. Click Property Management Financials on the side menu, within Reporting Groups
  8. The export will now be included in the list of reports

Create the export file

  1. Click Reports on the main toolbar
  2. Click Property Management Financials on the side menu, within Reporting Groups
  3. Either click Fee Export (Accrual) or Fee Export (Cash) based on the accounting method applicable to the export
  4. The following Report Options and Branch Filtering options are available:

    Select by

    Select the date you want to use when searching for fee transactions.  

    To include transactions created in a date period irrespective of the date of the transaction, click Create Date.


    Select a date period for your search.

    From and to dates

    Check the dates displayed are correct, or, if you have selected Custom Date Range, enter the start and end dates for your search.

    Export profile

    Select an accounts export profile

    Branch filtering

    Select branches to be included in your search.

  5. Click Export CSV to export a generic file and transform it into the format required for import by your accounting software, as specified in the Export Profile


Transactions can be exported more than once. Therefore, if you export the wrong transactions or the import into your accounting software fails for any reason, you can create a new export file

Download the export file

When the export file has been created, it will appear as a download in your browser. 

Alternatively, you can download the file at any time. To do this:

  1. Click Accounts on the main toolbar
  2. Click Fee Export on the side menu, within Transactions
    This is covered in more detail below in the Accessing historic exports section

Import the file into your accounting software

We advise you to liaise with your company accountant and follow the instructions for your accounting software.

Should the import fail for any reason, we suggest checking the details in the Export profile re: account name, nominal code mappings etc. 

Quickbooks has a maximum file limit and also requires separate files for charges and credits therefore you may need to import multiple files.

Accessing historic exports

Details of exports and the associated files are easily accessible, but, are dependant on your access. 

  1. Click Accounts on the main toolbar
  2. Click Fee Export on the side menu, within Transactions

Access to this option is restricted to users with access to Process Agency Fees, within Bank Transactions

For each fee export, the following details are stored:

  • The original file exported from Alto (available to download)
  • The file ready for import into your accounting software (available to download)
  • The fee export format
  • The accounting method
  • The account ID
  • The invoice number prefix
  • The date range selected and whether the selection was by transaction date or create date
  • The branches included in export


You need to have permission for all branches included in an export, to see it


From time to time, you may notice a report gets generated with warnings. If so, click to see details of the warnings. 

Export failed

If an export fails for any reason, the error file is available for download. The content of the error file helps to identify why the export failed.

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