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Digital tax system “excluding smallest firms”

25 October 2013
Issue: 4427 / Categories: News , Admin , Employees , Income Tax , Online

Professional accounting body calls for simplification

The government is facing a call to simplify its digital tax processes, after two-fifths of the UK’s smallest business concerns said they feel excluded from the system.

A survey by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) of 1,000 self-employed people and firms with fewer than ten employees found that 39% were struggling to connect with the taxman’s online demands due to a lack of resources and understanding.

One in five (20%) respondents said the method for completing a return electronically was too complicated, while 21% believed larger businesses were at an advantage through having the money to spend on specialised support.

HMRC’s website was identified as the most common way to obtain help with tax, but nearly 61% of those interviewed had never used or considered using technology to help with their tax dealings.

“It’s clear that some find conducting tax affairs online time-consuming and daunting,” said Adam Harper, the AAT’s director of professional development. “This has caused many micro-businesses to stick to old methods that they are more comfortable with.”

The real-time information set-up for PAYE has added further complexity to the Revenue’s digital set-up at a time when an easing of obligations is needed to create an entrepreneur-friendly UK in which start-ups thrive, claimed Harper.

“No business should feel digitally excluded, and more needs to be done to engage those most at risk of being left behind.”

The AAT’s call for simplification was echoed by the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, whose chairman, Anthony Thomas, said, “Government has wholly underestimated the extent of the difficulties experienced by many small and micro-businesses in going online, whether by reason of age, disability, geographical remoteness, or simply through choice.

“When combining the AAT findings with our own research, the government’s aggressive timetable to becoming digital by default becomes even more of a challenge and a real worry to those who are disengaged.”

Issue: 4427 / Categories: News , Admin , Employees , Income Tax , Online
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