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tax1April 13 2016

An independent oversight body has expressed concerns over proposals requiring businesses to maintain digital tax records and complete online tax returns quarterly.

In February, the Administrative Burdens Advisory Board told the Treasury that it could was “apprehensive about the admin burden impact of businesses needing to provide HMRC with information on a quarterly basis. It is difficult for us to see how more frequent reporting can reduce burden.”

Last week, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) drew attention to the new annual report from ABAB, quoting ABAB’s “significant concerns” that “the proposals for quarterly updates will be more burdensome than they currently are with increased record keeping and compliance costs.”

ABAB is an independent board bringing together “the business knowledge and expertise of business people and professionals from different backgrounds”. It advises HMRC on areas such as reducing administrative burden and simplifying tax measures for small businesses.

The FSB said ABAB’s “stark criticism” adds to growing concerns about the HMRC plans to introduce the untested digital tax returns platform. ABAB has noted the reservations about the current capability of software that the HMRC would use, as well as the lack of support for the initiative from small businesses, the FSB said.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “The writing is on the wall as more and more small businesses are making clear their concerns about this poorly thought out plan. Forcing small firms to pay for expensive digital accounting software so they must submit extra tax returns is not going to help anyone.

“It will simply add to the cost of doing business in the UK. These proposals will also substantially increase administrative burdens – particularly for the smallest businesses.”

He advised the Treasury: “When every independent body and expert is lining up to tell you to stop, slowdown and think again, it might be time to take a breather and listen to their concerns.”

The FSB is asking its members to outline the impact these proposals will have on their business to illustrate to the Minister the problems this will cause and urge the Government to ensure any move towards quarterly tax reporting is strictly on a voluntary basis.

ABAB issued its annual report on the last day of the tax year, April 5.

Links:

FSB statement

ABAB documents

ABAB ‘Tell ABAB report -2015-16’ February 2016

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