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Small businesses in East Anglia alarmed over planned tax reporting changes, says FSB

09:00 09 March 2016

Small businesses will be required to file digitial tax returns to HM Revenue & Customs on a quarterly basis by 2020.
Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Small businesses will be required to file digitial tax returns to HM Revenue & Customs on a quarterly basis by 2020. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Planned changes to the way in which businesses report data to the taxman are “causing consternation” among small firms in East Anglia, it has been claimed.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in December that, by 2020, small businesses and the self employed will have to keep track of their tax affairs digitally and report details to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on a quarterly basis.

Salena Dawson, East Anglia regional chair for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), says that, in the absence of any accompanying simplification of the tax system, the proposal is “causing consternation across the small business community, especially among those who are not able to complete tax returns online”.

In a letter to the EADT, Ms Dawson says: “FSB research has shown that members already spend on average £3,600 completing their tax returns, with many still completing theirs manually.

And she continues: “Businesses are not here to serve the tax office or to have substantial administrative burdens added to the day-to-day challenges they already face.“

Ms Dawson says the FSB is concerned that HMRC has yet to publish an impact assessment of the additional burden the planned change will create.

“We have supported quarterly reporting as a tool that could be of benefit to some smaller businesses but we believe that this must be voluntary,” she adds.

“Mandatory quarterly tax reporting will not suit most small businesses and they should be free to decide for themselves what technology they want to use and how much they can afford to spend on hardware and software.”

HMRC says that most of the UK’s 5.4million businesses already manage their tax online, including 99% of all VAT returns, and that the new system due to be in place by 2020 will simplify the process, enabling information entered in a business recordkeeping app to be sent at the click of a button.

A HMRC spokesperson said: “This digitally-led modernisation integrates the different information businesses already keep into a simple, streamlined system.

“This will reduce the burden and cost to business of keeping their tax affairs up-to-date and make it for them easier to spot mistakes.”

And the spokesperson added: “An impact assessment will be published with draft legislation in line with standard practice.”

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