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04 December 2006
Categories: News , Companies
Small businesses plan; Going online

Small businesses plan

Hot on the heels of the large business initiatives announced by HMRC on 17 November (see Update, Taxation, 23 November 2006), HMRC have launched plans to help small businesses settle their tax affairs more quickly and simply. The new HMRC publication, 'Delivering a new relationship with business', details a package of reforms designed to transform its relationship with business, including measures to allow businesses to settle their tax affairs sooner, to reduce the burden of forms and inspections and to develop a single customer record.
By 2010-11, HMRC say that they will have implemented a clear delivery plan that:

  • aligns the enquiry window with the submission of the tax return, enabling businesses to settle their tax affairs sooner;
  • significantly reduces the administrative burden in dealing with tax obligations;
  • develops a single customer record, a vital step towards having a single business customer account that shows all of a company's dealings with HMRC in one place; and
  • streamlines the HMRC online filing system and improves further the services that it provides for agents and tax advisers.

HMRC are also undertaking a consultation exercise on their work in creating a new management act that will modernise and simplify the legislative framework for the administration of taxes. They would like taxpayers' and tax professionals' views the Bill's first draft clauses, proposed changes to the law and information on costs and benefits. See for the draft clauses. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 20 February.
'Very sensible', says Grant Thornton's Francesca Lagerberg of HMRC's announcement. She says that it is 'very refreshing' that HMRC are talking so positively about improving HMRC's dealings with small business, but suspects that many will treat it with some caution. With regard to matching the enquiry window with the return, this is something that the tax profession has been asking for, for years, so she is particularly pleased to see HMRC's plan for this. As always, however, the theory is great, but will they be able to deliver?

Going online

Results from a recent TNS telephone survey carried out on behalf of HMRC, show that 77% of Internet users find it easier to complete tax returns online and 37% of non-Internet users believe filing a tax return online would be easier than other methods according to the survey. Other tasks that Internet users also find easier include Christmas shopping and food shopping. The top three uses for the Internet were:

  • researching (55%)
  • booking holidays (46%)
  • banking (39%)

The survey also highlighted a number of other quirks across the UK. The top shopping dislike is queuing, while the most disliked chore is ironing. While these latter two findings have little relevance to tax return completion, HMRC are as keen as ever to promote online filing and remind taxpayers that, for instance, online filing of tax returns is convenient and secure, that calculations are performed instantly, and that there is an immediate online response that HMRC have received the return.
HMRC press release dated 30 November 2006

Categories: News , Companies
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