“HMRC business record checks condemned” more interference?

If you’re Vodafone or Goldman Sachs it’s fine to do half a billion pound deals with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs but if you’re small enough to be picked upon and harried, look out.

HMRC has faced criticism over its planned business record checks.

From April this year, HMRC plans to spot-check 20,000 firms’ business records – inadequacies could result in fines of up to £3,000.

But the measures have been slammed by business leaders and Tory MPs, who claim that the move will cause more trouble for already struggling businesses.

Speaking to The Independent, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), John Walker said: “Despite the worsening economy, HMRC is launching this scheme regardless of the consequences.

“We have spoken to HMRC and expressed our concerns about this a number of times. But as far as they and ministers are concerned it is a policy aim to make this happen.

“There is a huge difference between the rhetoric of the Government about helping small businesses and what it is doing in reality.”

The move is particularly poignant following the recent revelations of favourable tax treatment of larger firms. Priti Patel, the Conservative MP for Witham said: “The attitude of HMRC to small businesses is frankly disgraceful when they are blatantly doing deals with large firms which have allowed them to escape millions of pounds in tax liabilities. It seems as though HMRC sees small businesses as low-lying fruit to meet their targets. That kind of persecution is outrageous.”

Reacting to the criticism, an HMRC spokesman said: “HMRC recognises that the launch of the Business Records Checks pilots has caused considerable concern to the tax profession, and that the project would have benefited from more detailed consultation with tax professionals at an earlier stage. In the light of these concerns, HMRC will undertake a strategic review of the project, in consultation with the professional and representative bodies.”

The spokesman added: “The findings of the review will be shared with representative bodies in January 2012, and final decisions will be made by HMRC before the end of the current financial year.”

Thanks to PG&T

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