Proving once again that there is a world of difference between what the government says and does, Osborne's actions wrt quarterly tax returns show he has no interest in reducing the regulatory burdens on the self employed and SME's
Osborne announced last Wednesday that tax returns will have to be filed four times a year from 2020 using apps and the HMRC website.
All very well and dandy, if it cost the taxpayers nothing in terms of time and money to quadruple their tax submissions and if ambitious HMRC IT projects actually worked.
John Longworth, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, is quoted by the Mail on Sunday:
"‘It’s difficult enough for businesses to deal with HMRC as it is without removing any of their face-to-face or telephone contact. Having digital might end up being a complete mess. We’re going to have to watch it very carefully."
Simon Baylis, partner at accountancy firm Moore Stephens, is just as scathing:
"You just know what’s going to happen if the self-employed are required to make quarterly payments. Many struggle to do self-assessment once a year. There will be a huge penalty issue, with disputes over people being on holiday at the end of a quarter or being sick. It will be an absolute dog’s dinner and I am very worried about it.My humble questions are as follows:
We haven’t got the detail yet and 2020 may seem a long way off but more and more businesses are going to be lobbying the Government over this. The Government is not thinking about the real world. In an ideal world, of course, it would be good, but in practice the self-employed and landlords are not bookkeepers.
It is ironic as quarterly reporting by FTSE 100 companies to their shareholders has just been dropped as being too burdensome."
1 How can this save taxpayers, and indeed HMRC, time and money if the number of submissions is quadrupled?
2 How does reporting your tax affairs four times every year make any difference to the reality of an individual's or SME's tax position?
We have ended up but vassals of the State's bureaucracy!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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