Latest Tax News
HMRC urges firms to sign up for MTD for VAT before August
HMRC is urging businesses to register for Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTD for VAT) before the 7 August VAT filing date.
HMRC stated that 'many of the 1.2 million businesses affected by MTD for VAT will be required to submit their first quarterly return using compliant software by 7 August'. Firms paying by direct debit must register by 27 July.
Under MTD for VAT, businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT registration threshold (currently £85,000) must keep some records digitally, and must submit their VAT returns via an Application Programming Interface (API).
According to HMRC, around 10,000 businesses are registering for MTD for VAT every day, and more than 600,000 have signed up in total. Nearly 400,000 submissions have already been successfully made using MTD software.
'Now is the time for businesses with an August quarterly filing deadline to sign up and join the hundreds of thousands already experiencing the benefits of MTD,' said Theresa Middleton, Director of MTD at HMRC.
'During this first year, we won't be issuing filing or record-keeping penalties to businesses doing their best to comply.'
61% of UK small firms have experienced a cyber-attack in the last year
Data published by insurer Hiscox has revealed that 61% of UK small firms have experienced a debilitating cyber-attack in the last year.
According to Hiscox, Belgian businesses are the most likely to be targeted, and US businesses the least likely.
The data found that the cost of dealing with a cyber-attack has risen considerably for many small businesses. Hiscox suggested that attackers are increasingly shifting their attention from large firms to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Two-thirds of small businesses stated that they are planning on increasing their spending on cyber security by 5% or more in the upcoming year.
Commenting on the issue, Gareth Wharton, Cyber CEO, said: 'The old adage 'prevention is better than cure' springs to mind, and being aware of these threats is half the battle. From our experience... business email accounts being compromised is currently the main cause of cyber claims, followed by ransomware.'
HMRC repays tax penalties worth £1.8 million to nearly 5,000 parents
HMRC has now repaid £1.8 million in tax penalties to nearly 5,000 parents who were fined for failing to register for the High Income Child Benefit Charge.
The High Income Child Benefit Charge is payable by a taxpayer who has 'adjusted net income' in excess of £50,000 where either they or their partner, if they have one, are in receipt of Child Benefit.
HMRC reviewed 35,000 cases where fines had been issued, and wiped fines for 6,000 taxpayers who had a 'reasonable excuse' for failing to notify liability to the charge.
Commenting on the issue, Becky O'Connor, Personal Finance Specialist at insurers Royal London, said: 'The bulk refund of penalty charges is an unprecedented move by HMRC and was the right thing to do. It is also an attempt to draw a line under complaints. However, there are many more law-abiding parents who did not realise that they should have paid the charge and who have not had a refund.
'The way the charge was introduced was unfair and confusing, and these refunds do not go far enough.'
HMRC tax investigations taking up to three years to complete
Data published by law firm Pinsent Masons has suggested that government tax investigations into large businesses are taking 'three and a half years' to complete.
According to the law firm, HMRC's litigation and settlement strategy makes it difficult for government investigators to settle for less than the full amount.
Commenting on the issue, a spokesperson for HMRC said: 'The tax we collect funds the UK's vital public services. We've secured over £62 billion in additional tax revenue from large businesses since 2010 – tax that would otherwise have gone unpaid.
'Over 85% of our investigations conclude within 18 months, but some cases are more complex and so will take longer to resolve and even require us to litigate.'
However, experts argue that tax investigations are often 'very disruptive' for businesses.
'HMRC's inflexible approach to tax avoidance is driving delays as it frequently aims to win every point against the business,' said Jason Collins, Partner at Pinsent Masons.
'HMRC's latest disclosure facility shows that HMRC is clamping down on what it views as businesses diverting profits from the UK through aggressive, out-of-date or erroneous transfer pricing.'
HMRC scam targets the elderly and vulnerable
A scam used by criminals in 2018 is now doing the rounds again. Criminals purporting to be from HMRC are targeting the elderly and vulnerable people including those with dementia.
The scam involves telling the target that HMRC have a warrant out for their arrest as they haven’t paid the correct tax.
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group shared some key points for those targeted by the fraudsters:
HMRC sometimes use phone calls or automated messages but generally use a reference number that you recognise. You can find a current list of digital and other contacts issued from HMRC on the GOV.UK website
Telephone numbers can be faked and you should never trust a number you see on your display, even if it looks like an official HMRC number. If you receive a suspicious call, end it immediately. Remember to double check the number before moving forward – you can confirm the official call centre numbers on GOV.UK. You can then call HMRC directly to check if it is a genuine call.
You should report all incidents to Action Fraud or call them on 0300 123 2040 . They are open Monday to Friday 9:00 – 18:00
You should also report the full details to HMRC (date, time, phone number used and content of the call) via email email@example.com.
HMRC warns young people in the UK to 'stay vigilant'
According to HMRC, criminals often target young individuals or the elderly as these groups of people are 'more likely to be less familiar with the UK tax system'.
HMRC has warned taxpayers to be especially vigilant about so-called 'Springtime refund scams'. In the Spring of 2018, 250,000 reports of tax scams were received by HMRC.
Criminals often bombard taxpayers with tax refund scams during the months of April and May – the time when HMRC processes legitimate rebates.
Individuals have been warned to be wary of text messages, calls and voicemails purporting to be from HMRC. These are often designed to extract personal or financial information from the taxpayer.
Commenting on the issue, Angela MacDonald, Head of Customer Services at HMRC, said: 'We are determined to protect honest people from these fraudsters who will stop at nothing to make their phishing scams appear legitimate.
'HMRC is currently shutting down hundreds of phishing sites a month. If you receive one of these emails or texts, don't respond and report it to HMRC so that more online criminals are stopped in their tracks.'