HMRC to launch small business spot checks later in 2011

The National Tax Director at Smith & Williamson, Richard Mannion, said that “This approach marks a change and hardening attitude. Currently, the tax authorities typically scrutinise an organisation’s tax affairs and record keeping if they believe it has filed an inaccurate tax return and is therefore paying too little tax. But this new programme means inspectors will be able to focus on current year records before a tax return is even submitted. HMRC will literally be able to walk into any business and demand to see their invoices, receipts, PAYE and VAT records and so on. And remember, they can go back six years in the case of a business that has been around that long. The programme will apply to both new and established businesses and so it will be of concern to millions of businesses up and down the country. Business owners should take these warnings seriously. If they don’t keep good records, they may be unable to substantiate tax returns and so would have difficulty in proving their figures are correct, should HMRC take issue with them.”

Earlier in the year the HMRC launched four new resources (two PDF guides and two online resources in association with Business Link) to help businesses get their affairs in order prior to any checks. The four new HMRC / Business Link Resources;

      1. A PDF entitled ‘Keeping records for business – what you need to know’
      2. A PDF entitled ‘A general guide to keeping records for your tax return’
      3. Guidance on setting up a basic record keeping system (in association with Business Link)
      4. Guidance on what records you should be keeping


Brian Redford of the HM Revenue and Customs said that “It may seem like a challenge, particularly when you’re starting out, but keeping good records will bring real advantages to your business. Get a proper system in place and you’ll not only be confident that you are paying the right tax, but you’ll keep up-to-date with how much you owe suppliers and how much you are owed. Later this year, HMRC will start a programme of Business Records Checks that will look at the adequacy and accuracy of business records in SMEs to bring about a major improvement in the standard of record-keeping. Now is the time to invest a bit of effort to make sure your business records are perfect.”

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