HMRC breathing down the neck of small businesses, warn tax technicians

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has expressed concern at the level of HMRC interest in small businesses at a difficult time for many when the economic situation needs the sector to prosper and grow.

HMRC plan to check the records of 50,000 small businesses during a trial period of six months to see if they are “adequate” for tax purposes.

ATT President Simon Braidley commented:

“Spreading best practice in book-keeping among small and medium businesses is clearly a good thing, and the ATT is willing to work with other professional bodies and HMRC to promote this.

“However we are concerned that many of the HMRC staff who are carrying out the current round of checks do not have sufficient knowledge and experience to do this work and reach appropriate conclusions.

“The pressure is being stepped up on small firms from all angles. Even if a business is considered to have adequate records, it could still be subjected to an enquiry using the new ’Single Compliance Process’. The aim of HMRC with this new process, which involves sharing details of the risks identified by HMRC with the taxpayer and agent at the outset, is to complete the enquiry in a shorter period of time, enabling HMRC to check more businesses, more quickly. Whilst the completion of the enquiry in a shorter time may ease the pain for the taxpayer a little, it is, however, still unlikely that they will look upon an enquiry as an enjoyable experience.

“These processes are in addition to the campaigns which HMRC are launching against specific business sectors. We have had campaigns in respect of offshore bank accounts, doctors and dentists and plumbers. Restaurants, freelance tutors and e-marketplace traders are also due to face additional checks aimed at tracking down tax evaders. It could be a long hot summer for small businesses with HMRC breathing down their necks.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Founded in 1989, the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) is the leading professional body for those providing UK tax compliance services and related activities. Our members are qualified by examination and practical experience to assist individuals and businesses in complying with their tax obligations.


  2. The primary objective of the ATT is to provide an appropriate qualification for individuals who undertake tax compliance work. Those who meet the membership requirements have their qualification recognised by use of the title of ‘Taxation Technician’ and the designatory letters ‘ATT’.


  3. The ATT has over 11,000 members, affiliates and registered students.
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