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HMRC increase collections from 'easy target' small businesses

1-minute read

HMRC increase collections from 'easy target' small businesses
Isabella Lowenthal-Isaacs

Isabella Lowenthal-Isaacs

21 September 2017

A recent study shows that small businesses are being targeted by HMRC as a result of pressure to collect billions more in taxes.

An accountancy group, UHY Hacker Young, revealed that during the 2016/2017 tax year, a staggering £474m was collected from SMEs in the UK.

  • HMRC sets sights on small businesses to plug tax gap

The focus on smaller businesses led to a five per cent increase in the amount of cash collected in the last tax year, it is reported.

‘Unfair’ targeting of self-employed

A UHY spokesman has said that small businesses are in the spotlight for investigations because they are considered “an easier target than many larger businesses”.

Roy Maugham, a tax partner at UHY, described the singling out of SMEs as ‘unfair’.

“The cost of tax inquiries for SMEs can be high, and the investigations disruptive.” He said. “Small companies may not have the necessary resources to bounce back.”

HMRC under pressure to close the ‘tax-gap’

The singling out of smaller businesses could be because HMRC are under pressure to close the gap between what they are meant to collect and what they actually bring in.

Official reports have estimated that the “tax gap” stood at £3.7bn for the tax year 2014/15.

Indeed, earlier in the year, we reported on HMRC's shift in focus from larger businesses to sole traders and microbusinesses, and unfortunately for the self-employed, the targeting shows little signs of stopping.

Easy mistakes can prove costly

Maugham advised small business owners that: “Without care, businesses are at risk of being pulled up over minor mistakes…which could incur disproportionately heavy fines and penalties.”

He went on to say that SMEs should do all they can to avoid mistakes on their returns.

Late returns can also result in fines, so it’s important to be clear on upcoming tax return deadlines.

Have you been penalised by HMRC? Sound off in the comments.

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