Hidden away in the small print of George Osborne’s autumn statement, it emerged that HMRC have put quite a few noses out of joint by announcing that small businesses must now complete a taxation self assessment four times a year, instead of once.
Designed to put them on an equal footing with larger corporations who also file quarterly returns, small business owners, landlords and the self employed who make more than £10,000 annual profit will now be expected to enter their data quarterly. While taxes due won’t need paying four times a year, the suspicion is that this is what HMRC are moving towards.
The move has been criticised by financial experts and accountants, who say that this will simply make life even more difficult for small companies who are already working hard to get their businesses up and running. It will be even more important to ensure that all books and paperwork are rigorously maintained, as there is now even more chance that HMRC will decide upon an inspection.
Small business owners, already concerned by the poor customer service received when trying to access HMRC helplines, are naturally concerned that the £100 fines for late submission will take chunks out of profits in an increasingly tough trading environment.
HMRC have defended the move, saying that more regular assessments mean there’s less chance of a unexpected shock when the annual tax bill arrives.