Taxman to review record checks project

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to carry out a review of its Business Record Checks project, designed to tackle poor record-keeping by small and medium-sized enterprises.

In September 2011, HMRC said it planned to complete up to 12,000 checks by the end of the current financial year with 20,000 provisionally planned for 2012-13. Following pilot schemes in eight areas earlier in the year, HMRC found that 44 per cent of businesses visited had issues with record-keeping and around 12 per cent had seriously inadequate records.

But on 22 December, the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) reported that HMRC had started a detailed review of the Business Records Check (BRC) project, in which the CIOT, along with other professional and representative bodies, has been invited to take part.

An HMRC statement said: “The purpose of the review is to consider the overall aims of BRCs, examine whether the current approach is the best way of achieving the policy objectives and identify what changes are needed to ensure that the objectives are achieved.

“In the meantime HMRC will continue with a limited number of BRC pilots and the results of them will be evaluated as part of the review. HMRC expect to report initial findings in early 2012.

“Given the concerns over possible penalties, HMRC would like to take this opportunity to reassure taxpayers and agents that HMRC will not (except in extreme cases such as where a taxpayer has no records or has destroyed them) be seeking to use the record-keeping penalty provision during the pilots. No such cases have been identified so far.”

HMRC had previously said that in the longer term it planned to issue penalties of up to £3,000 for serous inadequacies in record-keeping. It launched the BRC project over concerns that poor record-keeping made it more difficult for businesses to pay the right amount of tax at the right time, as well to keep track of their trading position and profitability and to make key decisions.

LINK: HMRC guidance on keeping records

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