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Risk-based approaches to manage Compliance Service delivery are undergoing a maturity model evolution.
This per se is not a negative issue, however, do risk-based approaches leave us exposed to more or less compliance risk?
We pose this question because a number of process advances, including technological drivers have over the past few years increased the incidence of the risk-based approach (r)evolution.
As an example, HMRC launched their risk based approach pilot scheme related to business record keeping called ‘Business Records Check‘ a few years ago (2011), only for the initiative to ‘go quiet’ and then suddenly to rear its head again late in 2013.
From the HMRC web site, the following information was published:
“Up until 17 February 2012, 3,431 BRC had been carried out. These found that 36 per cent of businesses had some issue with their record-keeping of which 10 per cent had issues serious enough to warrant a follow up visit.“
HMRC have released an update this month to their notice on Keeping VAT records. One of these changes relates to VAT simplified invoices which were introduced earlier this year as part of the simplification and harmonisation of VAT rules in the EU. Previously only retailers were exempt from providing full VAT invoices to unregistered businesses.
However the changes mean that any business issuing VAT invoices for £250 or less (including VAT) can issue simplified invoices.
What to include in a simplified invoice:
Your name, address and VAT registration number
The time of supply (date)
A description which identifies the goods or services supplied
The each VAT rate charged, the amount of VAT charged.
How does a simplified invoice differ from a full VAT invoice:
In addition, a full VAT invoice must include:
A sequential number based on one or more series which uniquely identify the document
The date of issue (if different from the time of supply)
The name and address of the person to whom the goods or services are supplied
For each description, the quantity of the goods or the extent of the services, and the rate of VAT and the amount payable, excluding VAT, expressed in any currency
The gross total amount payable, excluding VAT, expressed in any currency
The rate of any cash discount offered
The total amount of VAT chargeable, expressed in sterling
The unit price
The reason for any zero rate of exemption.
VAT invoices over £250
If issuing VAT invoices over £250, a full invoice must still be issued or a modified VAT invoice showing VAT inclusive rather VAT exclusive values.
Rebecca Taylor ACMA
Fake email alerts from Companies House and HMRC have become increasingly sophisticated. There was a time when it was relatively easy to spot a fake email alert but even accountants have been caught out by recent fake email alerts. And it isn’t just Companies House and HMRC. Be careful of emails from banks, other institutions, postal services, voicemail services and even Skype. Previously harmful emails have tried to direct you to a fake website to steal your personal details but these recent emails have attachments which could harm your computer.
What to look for
These fake email alertss have an attachment which appears to support details in the email message. For example, it could claim to be a customer complaint from Companies House, a missed delivery or a bank transaction. The email address could give you a clue that it is a fake email alert but many now look like they have come from a genuine email address. Some fake emails have footers which have been obviously copied from another email. If you are not expecting an email from the sender, think twice before opening any attachments, particularly .zip files.
These emails are all trying to get you to do one thing: open the attachment. The attachment invariably contains malware or a virus and will either damage your computer, steal your details or even demand a ransom (see an article from the National Crime Agency on Cryptolocker).
The National Crime Agency provides this advice:
This is a case where prevention is better than cure.
- The public should be aware not to click on any such attachment.
- Antivirus software should be updated, as should operating systems.
- User created files should be backed up routinely and preserved off the network.
- Where a computer becomes infected it should be disconnected from the network, and professional assistance should be sought to clean the computer.
- Various antivirus companies offer remedial software solutions (though they will not restore encrypted files).
Example of fake emails
Follow the links for some examples of fake emails:
As a general rule, you should keep your records for a minimum of six years. However,
if you are:
• an employer, you need to keep Pay As You Earn (PAYE) records for 3 years
(in addition to your current year)
• a contractor in the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), you need to keep your CIS
records for 3 years (in addition to your current year)
• keeping records to complete a personal (non business) tax return, you only need to
keep them for 22 months from the end of the tax year to which they relate.
If you need to keep records for other reasons, for example the Companies’ Act
requires limited companies to keep specific records and you also use those records
for tax purposes, you need to be aware that there may be different time limits for
retaining them. Be careful not to destroy any records you also use for tax purposes
You’ve completed your tax returns, you think you can now breathe a sigh of relief, but can you?
HMRC can inspect any taxpayer’s records under Schedule 36 by FA08, FA09 and FA10. They can check the tax records for:-
Pay as You Earn (PAYE)
Value Added Tax (VAT)
Income Tax (IT)
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
Corporation Tax (CT)
Insurance Premium Tax (IPT)
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT)
Petroleum Revenue Tax (PRT)
Aggregates Levy (AGL)
Climate Change Levy (CCL)
Landfill Tax (LFT) and
Bank Payroll Tax (BPT)
The technical term for the inspection is a Compliance Check. They will check that the tax payer has:-
- Complied with their obligations
- Paid the correct amount of tax and at the right time
- Claimed the correct reliefs and allowances
This can be completed by anything from a short telephone call to confirm a single fact, to a detailed investigation of a person’s entire financial affairs over a period of years.
HMRC may undertake checks by either asking for information or documents or by arranging a meeting or visit.
- Require taxpayers by notice in writing to provide information and produce documents (a “taxpayer notice”)
- Require third parties by notice in writing (for example a supplier or bank) to provide information and produce documents (a “third party notice”)
The caveat being that these requirements are reasonable for the purpose of checking a tax position. The generic term for these types of notice is information notice.
The recipient has the protection of a right of appeal to, or prior approval by, an independent tribunal. There is no right of appeal however where the notice only refers to information or documents that form part of a taxpayer’s statutory records, or any person’s records that relate to:
- The supply of goods and services
- The acquisition of goods from another member state, or
- The importation of goods from outside the European Union (EU) by a business
If the taxpayer is not forthcoming with the information, HMRC may invoke their statutory powers to obtain them.
They may also request assistance with aspects of a tax check from other government departments.
This could include a situation where there is reason to believe that a taxpayer:
- did not notify chargeability to tax
- did not register for VAT if required, or
- is operating in the informal economy
Restrictions on Information Powers
The taxman is not all-powerful; some safeguards have been installed, set out in the law and with guidance so that in carrying out compliance checks
- HMRC’s powers are used reasonably and proportionately
- Taxpayers are clear about when a compliance check begins and ends
- Officers have no right to enter any parts of premises that are used solely as a dwelling, whether to carry out an inspection or to examine documents produced under an information notice. They can, however, enter if invited
- FA09 adds to Sch 36 FA08 a power to inspect all property for the purpose of valuation (for direct taxes purposes). This requires either the taxpayer’s agreement or Tribunal approval
- Unannounced visits will only be made where agreement has been given by an authorised officer
Other safeguards include the fact that officers can’t require certain things to be provided:
- Information relating to the conduct of appeals against HMRC decisions
- Legally privileged information
- Auditors or tax advisers advice to a client about their tax affairs
- Information about a person’s medical or spiritual welfare
- Journalistic material
- Information over six years old can only be included in a notice issued by or with the approval of an authorised officer
- HMRC cannot give a notice in respect of the tax position of a dead person more than four years after the person’s death
The Power to Visit Business Premises and Check Assets and Records
Inspection powers allow an officer of HMRC to enter business premises and inspect the premises, business assets and statutory records.
If an information notice has been issued earlier, the documents required in that notice could be inspected at the same time.
FA09 incorporates into Schedule 36 inspection powers in respect of the:
- business premises of Involved third parties
- valuation of premises for Income Tax or Corporation Tax
- must only be undertaken where it is reasonably required to establish the tax position and
- will normally be by prior arrangement, the date and time being convenient to the taxpayer
The Power to Visit Business Premises and Check Assets and Records
Inspection powers also allow any officer to enter any premises when they believe the premises are to be used in connection with taxable supplies of goods or taxable acquisition of goods from Member States, and such goods or documents relating to such goods are on the premises.
There is no right of appeal against an inspection but the occupier can refuse entry and prevent the inspection from being completed.
The occupier can be penalised for such obstruction, where the inspection has been approved by a Tribunal.
There may be occasions when a pre-arranged visit will be inappropriate, for example where there is a strong risk that the taxpayer would move the business or remove stock or other assets. In such cases, an unannounced visit may be undertaken subject to prior agreement by an authorised officer.
If a formal statutory approach is needed, and it has not been possible to agree the time of inspection and give written confirmation, the inspection must be approved by a Tribunal and 7 days written notice of the time of the inspection given. The application for approval must be made by, or with the approval of, an authorised officer.
When a Penalty can be charged where a person:
- Fails to comply with an information notice
- Conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of documents required by an information notice
- Conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of documents that they have been notified are, or are likely to be, required by an information notice
- Deliberately obstructs an inspection that has been approved by the Tribunal.
- In complying with an information notice provides inaccurate information or produces a document that contains an inaccuracy,
- Fails to comply with a notice requiring contact details of a tax/duty debtor to HMRC.
These rights are covered in sections 38 FA 08 and 09
Types of Penalties
There are four types and amounts of penalty:
- An initial penalty of £300
- A daily penalty of up to £60 for every day that the failure or obstruction continues after the date the initial penalty is assessed
- A tax-related penalty
- A penalty not exceeding £3000 for providing inaccurate information or documents in response to an information notice
A tax-related penalty is in addition to the initial penalty and any daily penalties. The amount of the penalty is decided by the Upper Tribunal having regard to the amount of tax which either has not, or is unlikely to be, paid by that person.
A person is not liable to a penalty if they have a reasonable excuse for:
- Failing to comply with an information notice, or
- Providing inaccurate details or documents, or
- Deliberately obstructing a tribunal approved inspection
If they correct their failure as soon as the excuse ends, the excuse will then be treated as continuing until the correction is made.
Normally, daily penalties will not be assessed after the failure has been remedied.
Schedule 37 of FA08 amended existing record keeping legislation in respect of PAYE, VAT, IT, CGT and CT, whilst Schedule 50 to FA2009 extends this approach to IPT, SDLT, AGL, CCL, and LFT with BPT being included from 8 April 2010. Following consultation it was accepted that SDRT and PRT did not require separate statutory provisions, whilst IHT will be addressed through guidance.
These provisions are aimed at alignment and clarification.
This approach is designed to be flexible across a range of business and non-business taxpayers.
There are penalties for failure to keep adequate records.
The basic requirements in relation to record keeping have not changed but rules have been aligned on how long records are kept.
- Child care vouchers – if you have children attending a nursery or looked after by a professional childminder, your employer can join a Childcare voucher scheme. This allows for £55 of the weekly cost to be deducted free of tax and NI if you are a basic tax rate payer, or £28 if you are a higher rate tax payer.
- Pensions – if you pay into a work pension scheme, 20% tax is automatically deducted. For high rate tax payers, you can claim additional relief either by declaring it on your Self-Assessment or calling the taxman.
- Company cars – are a pain and the tax is huge BUT if you have a company van, the benefit in kind is capped at £3,000 so for a basic rate tax payer the cost of driving is only £600 or £1,200 for a higher rate payer.
- Professional membership fees – your membership to a recognised trade or professional body it is a deductible expense, but not for your hobbies.
- Share incentive schemes – there are loads of schemes that allow either NI or Capital Gains Tax to be saved, you don’t have work for a listed company either.
- Giving your work colleagues a lift to work – if your employer encourages car pooling you can claim 5p a mile for the passenger without incurring any additional tax charge.
- Cycle to work – get your employer to provides a bike both for travel to work and play, it’s not considered as a benefit in kind.
- Then after a time you can buy it off them at market value.
- Season ticket loans – your company can advance the cost of an annual season ticket up to £5,000, much cheaper than buying a ticket weekly.
- From April 2014 this increases to £10,000 (not really sure if that’s a blessing?)
- Electric Cars – from April 2015 there’s no benefit in kind.
- Working from home – it is becoming increasingly more common for staff to work from home. You can claim £4 a week allowance without having to produce receipts.
Any questions contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping track of income and expenses can hard when you are busy so why not try using a phone app? HMRC suggest the following:
|Forbes Computer Systems Ltd (Opens new window)||Forbes Receipt Keeper||Android|
|FreeAgent Central Ltd (Opens new window)||Earnest||iPhone, iPod touch, iPad|
|Immagini Ltd (Opens new window)||ZipZipBooks||Android|
|Intuit (Opens new window)||MyBizTracker||iOS (iPhone, iPod touch)|
|Mr Tax Software Ltd (Opens new window)||Text 2 Save Tax||Android.|
|Quick File Ltd (Opens new window)||Quick File||All – free web-based application|
|Sage (Opens new window)||Sage Record Keeper||iPhone, iPad iOS|
|123 Tax (Opens new window)||123 Tax application||Windows Phone|
I have been trying out the Sage Record Keeper Mobile on my iPhone, its pretty good for free, here is an overview:
- Record cash in and cash out
- See your balances at a glance and track CIS deductions – Standard or Higher Rate
- You can even take photos of your receipts – no longer worry about losing them- multiple photos if needed
- Estimate the current year’s tax and refer back to previous ones (up to 6 years)
- Quick links to record income and expenses in seconds
- Enter details, specify type of payment used and add notes
- Add and customise tags for transactions to group them into categories
- Add several tags to each transaction
- Search and filter by category, supplier / customer, amounts or other details
- Backup your information using iCloud
For use outside of the app you can export all or just a selection of transactions and photos as CSV and image files. They’re automatically attached to an email for sharing with anyone.
So no excuses, use your phone and stay organised.
HMRC campaigns and task forces are on going and Compliance checks are becoming common. As stated in the HMRC Infographic record compliance yielded £20.7bn.
So its worth knowing that you can appoint an extra adviser to help you answer the inspectors questions, its quick and easy to to arrange using this link
Its a temporary authorisation that does not cancel or amend permanent authorisations ie your normal advisers/accountants
HMRC have also issued new Fact Sheets for Compliance Checks and Penalties
Sometimes we all need a little help and specialist advice can be invaluable
When you are operating a business as a sole trader, you will need to complete a self-assessment return for your income. Self-employed income is taxable after deducting allowable expenses. Previously I talked about the expenses that a sole trader can claim but now I am going to tell you about the expenses that you cannot claim.
Non allowable expenses for sole traders include:
Your own wages and drawings, national insurance contributions and pension contributions.
Childcare costs. These can only currently be claimed through a limited company scheme.
Subsistence. You can only claim for hotel and meal costs if you have an overnight business trip. You cannot claim for other meals including lunches, snacks and coffee.
Any business entertaining including entertaining clients and suppliers and hospitality at events.
The purchase cost of business premises and any costs relating to a non-business part of your premises. Also the cost of improving and altering premises and large equipment.
Motoring costs like fines, purchase cost and travel between home and work.
Repayment of loans, overdrafts and other finance solutions.
Some professional fees like the legal costs of purchasing property and large assets. Also the cost of settling tax disputes and fines.
Payments to clubs, charities, political parties.
Cost of ordinary clothing even if you only wear it for work.
Personal use including goods bought for personal use, the personal proportion of your home costs if you work from home, personal phone calls on your mobile phone etc.