Clulow Bookkeeping & Forensic Services

HMRC In Flux

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HMRC is striving forward with improvements to on-line services for Agents, Individuals and SMEs...

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It is really important to get these interactions right. Not only has the window to correct mistakes been considerably reduced - irrespective if these have been made by yourself and/or incorrect/poorly executed work from an agent, but the penalties that are being levied are also increased.

HMC have introduced on-line filing and some access to accounts information - this gives a much better means and proof that work is indeed filed and accepted on time.  Thus negating the delays in dealing with post within the service or negating the need to have to use Special Delivery to ensure accountability.  

We're watching carefully though that by accepting the return on-line and by reducing windows for corrections, any [legal] case to enforce harsh penalties is going to be swiftly negated through case law and sadly any huge political embarrassment with those individuals, sole traders and SMEs that pay the bulk of the taxes for the United Kingdom.  

We are pleased that often, were it is reasonable and appropriate, these penalties can be appealed against. Having seen over thirty years of transformation at HMRC we're concerned though that many fines are already hurting struggling businesses and sole traders who have missed key milestones largely through circumstances beyond their control.

It is not an encouragement for economic recovery to hear and read about the multi-billion pound tax right off deals for a few large corporates recently. These deals may prove bad downstream as they may create case law which prevents those that should be penalised to be challenged with the full weight of the law. Whilst we don't know the full facts of these cases - it at best causes consternation for those hard working individuals who despite carrying a heavy tax burden both directly and indirectly have no relief in their taxes. At worst it may cause precedent case law which will allow the large corporates even more ways to defer, delay or even write of their tax bills.

The concerns mount when the HMRC complaint and review processes are now focused back into the same line managed whom may have vested interests. Every organisation should allow for criticism and peer review and ensure valuable learning results in corrections, change and transformation - it must also allay fears and concerns when it is also right and deliver these empathetically. We have personally dealt with a huge number of complaints and concerns - few have needed to be escalated - in fact in thirty years less than a handful have needed executive level intervention [or Commissioners - or now Tribunal]. 

The outlook though is good. Continued.... 
Barbara Breeze 
T. 07782 340261