Making Tax Digital – Sanctions for Late Submission and Late Payment Reply

Making Tax Digital is coming soon!

It will will eventually affect us all, businesses including property investors will have to initially file their accounts quarterly and then ultimately monthly.

For many this will be a huge shift from annual accounts and self assessment returns.

HMRC will be able to estimate your tax each time you submit a return.

The government have confirmed that taxpayers will be given a period of at least 12 months before they will be charged any late submission penalties in relation to their Making Tax Digital for Business obligations.

Making Tax Digital – sanctions for late submission and late payment is open for you to respond until 11 June. The consultation seeks views on three possible models for late submission penalties and provides an update on late payment penalty interest.

Model A – the Points Based System

Model B – Compliance Reviews with Penalties

Model C – Suspension with conditions

Read further details at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/601136/Making_Tax_Digital_-_sanctions_for_late_submission_and_late_payment.pdf

steve@bicknells.net

New powers to hunt down the hidden economy Reply

Corporate criminal stealing business documents

HMRC have always been keen to seek out those who fail to register for tax, since 2011 they have been using CONNECT.

According to Accounting Web:

It uses a mathematical technique to search previously unrelated information and detect otherwise invisible ‘relationship’ networks. Using Connect, HMRC sifts through information on property transactions at the Land Registry, company ownerships, loans, bank accounts, employment history, voting and local authority rates registers and compares with self-assessment records to spot taxpayers who might be under-declaring or not declaring income.

Connect has made links between tax records and third party data from hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurers and even gas SAFE registrations. DVLA records and the shipping and Civil Aviation Authority registers help identify owners of cars and planes who declare income that the computer suggests cannot support such purchases.

During August 2016 (Consultations end in October 2016) they issued 3 new consultations:

 

Tackling the hidden economy: Sanctions

Tackling the hidden economy: Extension of data – gathering powers to Money Service Businesses

Failure to notify

The criteria used to assess if an activity is a hobby or a business are:

  • The size and commerciality of the activity.
  • The frequency of the activity and transactions
  • The application of business principles.
  • Whether there is a genuine profit motive.
  • The amount of time devoted to the activities.
  • The existence of arm’s-length customers (as opposed to just selling your wares to family and friends).

HMRC have some great examples to help you decided, for example

Gail is a full-time employee working for a stationery company. She pays her PAYE tax on this employment every month.

In her free time Gail makes cushions and uses most of them in her home. Occasionally she sells them to friends and work colleagues for an amount that just covers the cost of materials of £15. Sometimes she makes a loss. Any money she does make goes towards her holiday fund.

She decides to make extra cash by selling cushions on an Internet auction site and starts auctioning three or four to see how they go. They all sell for more than £50, a profit of at least £35 each.

She uses this money to buy more materials and within a month she is selling around ten cushions a week, always at a profit, and is considering setting up her own website.

Gail’s initial sales of cushions to friends are not classed as trading. It lacks commerciality and she does not set out to make a profit. The occasional sales are a by-product of her hobby. Once she begins to auction her cushions, she has moved into the realms of commerciality.

She is systematically selling her goods to make a profit. She will need to inform HMRC about her trade, and keep records of all her transactions. On the level of sales shown in the example the potential turnover of around £26,000 is well below the VAT annual threshold so Gail does not need to register for VAT.

Don’t wait for HMRC to track you down, register now and declare the tax you owe!

steve@bicknells.net

 

Is £277k a fair penalty for being 1 day late on VAT Reply

Businessman and businesswoman in panic of the financial crisis

There have been a couple of recent cases that highlight the importance of filing and paying VAT on time. Both cases were argued on proportionality.

Blue Ocean Associates Ltd v Revenue and Customs (VAT – PENALTIES : Default surcharge) [2016] UKFTT 42 (TC) (26 January 2016)

VALUE ADDED TAX – default surcharge – return submitted one day late – with a penalty of £277,185.00  proportionate – yes

As the default which is the subject of the present appeal was the first such default by the Company in the surcharge period, the surcharge fell to be calculated at the rate of 2% on the amount which was paid late (£13,859,254.00) and was therefore £277,185.00.

Trinity Mirror PLC v Revenue & Customs [2014] UKFTT 355 (TC) (14 April 2014)

VAT – default surcharge – whether penalty proportionate – appeal allowed

In respect of the 06/07 VAT Period, Trinity Mirror was required to (1) make 2 payments on account of £1,546,965.00 each by, respectively, 31/05/2007 and 29/06/2007, and (2) file its VAT return and make a balancing payment of £5,467,130.92 by 01/08/2007.  Trinity Mirror made the 2 payments on account, and filed its VAT return, on time.  It made the balancing payment in full on 02/08/2007, that is, 1 day late.

The Penalty was £70,906.44

Its pretty clear from both cases that HMRC are getting tough on late returns and payments so its vital that businesses don’t miss deadlines!

steve@bicknells.net

Have you done your Self Assessment Return? Reply

SA100 tax return form with calculator and pencil lying on table

In January 2015, HMRC reported…

A record 85.5% of these were sent online, with the busiest days for filing coming on 30 and 31 January, when HMRC received 980,000 returns. The busiest hour was between 1pm and 2pm on 30 January, when almost 50,000 returns were received – 830 per minute.

The busiest hour on deadline day was between 11 am and midday, when almost 32,000 returns were received – 530 per minute. HMRC also answered 95% of calls first time on deadline day.

Around 4.3 million customers (42%) left it until January to file their returns, which HMRC issued in April 2014.

By the end of January, more than a million Self Assessment-only customers (self-employed, with no other source of income, no employees and not VAT-registered) opted to receive electronic messages from HMRC, rather than paper communications. If you are eligible, you can sign up by logging into your Self Assessment online account and following the prompts.

There are three different types of penalties that can be charged if a return is outstanding after the return due date or is filed late. These are

  • Late filing fixed penalty (see SAM61220)
  • Daily penalties (see SAM61230)
  • Late filing (tax geared) penalty (see SAM61240)

Customers may appeal against any late filing penalty on the grounds that there was a reasonable excuse for the late submission of the return.

HMRC even have a calculator to help work out how much the penalty might be…

https://www.gov.uk/estimate-self-assessment-penalties

Don’t be late, do it today!

steve@bicknells.net

Contact Us

 

 

HMRC open discussions on Penalties Reply

Scaring amounts

On 2nd February 2015 HMRC launched HMRC Penalties: a Discussion Document

Closing date 11th May 2015.

HMRC state…

We don’t use penalties as a way of raising revenue, or to offset our running costs. In essence, we want compliance, not penalties.

Do you think HMRC penalties are fair? do they work? how could the system work better?

Why not use the discussion document to help HMRC to change the system and improve the way penalties are applied.

steve@bicknells.net

Can you cope with Auto Enrolment? Reply

Retro Drama Woman

A survey by AutoenrolSME found that 6 out 10 businesses can’t cope and hired additional staff to manage the process!

A Poll in April 2014 of 200 businesses with 62 to 249 employees found:

63% of the employers didn’t know when their staging date was.
58% had not set up an auto-enrolment pension scheme.
90.5% of employers without an auto-enrolment pension scheme hadn’t even started researching one.

If you think you can ignore Auto Enrolment, think again, The Pensions Regulator will make you comply……..

Non-statutory action
We can issue guidance and instruction by telephone, email, letter and in person. Or we can send a warning letter confirming a set time frame for compliance with the duties.
Statutory notices
Statutory notices can direct you to comply with your duties and / or pay any contributions you have missed or are late in paying. We have further discretionary powers which allow us to estimate and charge interest on unpaid contributions and direct you to calculate and / or pay unpaid contributions.
Penalty notices
We can issue penalty notices to punish persistent and deliberate non-compliance.
A fixed penalty notice will be issued if you don’t comply with statutory notices, or if there’s sufficient evidence of a breach of the law. This is fixed at £400 and payable within a specific period.
We can also issue an escalating penalty notice for failure to comply with a statutory notice. This penalty has a prescribed daily rate of £50 to £10,000 depending on the number of staff you have.
We can issue a civil penalty for cases where you fail to pay contributions due. This is a financial penalty of up to £5,000 for individuals and up to £50,000 for organisations.
Where employers fail to comply with a compliance notice or there is evidence of a breach, we can issue a prohibited recruitment conduct penalty notice. This is currently set at a maximum fixed daily rate of £5,000 for organisations with over 250 staff. We aim to fully recover all the penalties that we issue.
Court action
We can take civil action through the court to recover penalties.
Employers who deliberately and wilfully fail to comply with their duties may be prosecuted.
We can also confiscate goods where there is a criminal conviction and restrain assets during criminal investigations.

The first case was Dunelm http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/section-89-dunelm.pdf

Research shows that Accountants are most likely to be asked to help SME’s and Business Accountant (a service provided by CIMA Members in Practice) have created a booking service to assist SME’s in getting help http://business-accountant.com/auto-enrolment/

So don’t be scared by Auto Enrolment, don’t delay drawing up a project plan, take action now to avoid problems with the Pension Regulator later!

steve@bicknells.net

 

Everybody has to pay tax but what if HMRC get it wrong? Reply

 

Tax Return Due Now

If you don’t file your tax returns HMRC will assess the amount of tax due but it will probably not be the correct amount. So what can you do to correct the tax payable?

Overpayment Relief

A person can claim overpayment relief to recover overpaid income tax, CGT, Class 4 NIC or corporation tax or to reduce an excessive assessment. A person can claim overpayment relief to recover overpaid bank payroll tax or to reduce an excessive assessment.

This includes amounts paid under a contract settlement.

Special Relief

This is an important ‘relief of last resort’ for taxpayers who have missed all other deadlines and face a tax bill from HMRC, where there is no statutory right to amend the actual legal liability because the relevant time limits have passed.

Special relief is intended as a final and exceptional remedy where it would be unconscionable for HMRC to pursue tax that is legally due. HMRC has a duty to both Parliament and taxpayers generally to collect the tax due under relevant tax law and to ensure the tax system is operated fairly. This means that HMRC cannot simply disregard the time limits for making a self-assessment if it appears that a determination might be excessive. There must be further circumstances which make it unconscionable to recover the full amount due under the determination or not to repay an amount already paid.

Such circumstances might be where a person

  • is suffering from a temporary or sporadic illness, including mental illness, and consequently finds it particularly difficult to engage with the tax system
  • has not received our notices or other communications for reasons outside their control
  • is insolvent. Where the debt is based on determined sums, and the late submitted evidence (or returns) prove that a different amount would have been due if returns had been made in time, we would consider using this relief. Relief would be considered where doing so is fair to other creditors – so the unconscionable element would be that pursuing the amount in the determination would be to the detriment of other creditors.

For a claim to special relief to be successful, it must, among other things, explain why the person considers that it would be unconscionable for HMRC to recover the full amount charged by a determination. Unconscionable means “completely unreasonable” or “unreasonably excessive”. SACM12240

Penalty Mitigation

HMRC may in their discretion mitigate any penalty, or stay or compound any proceedings for recovery thereof, and may also, after judgment, further mitigate or entirely remit the penalty. TMA70/S102.

Mitigation will be considered in three circumstances.

  1. Where some sort of HMRC maladministration, usually delay, has caused or contributed to the size of the penalty – where delay and/or lack of co-operation by the taxpayer have caused the department additional costs that will weigh against mitigation.
  2. Where to enforce payment of the penalty would cause the taxpayer genuine and absolute hardship.
  3. Other exceptional circumstances such as the penalty or penalties being wholly disproportionate to the offence – for example a large tax-geared failure penalty under S93(5) following upon very large S93(3) daily penalties for the same offence, or belated information revealing the type of situation set out at EM5212 (“In-built” penalty).

There is no appeal against HMRC’s decision on S102 mitigation and a taxpayer wishing to litigate would need to seek Judicial Review.

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

HMRC to hit businesses who file their VAT returns late – are your returns up to date? 1

Tax Return Due Now

On the 9th January 2013, HMRC announced:

As many as 50,000 businesses that have failed to submit VAT returns will be targeted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) this month with warnings that their tax affairs will be closely scrutinised.

More than 600,000 businesses have to put in VAT returns each month and most do so on time. But in a new campaign some 50,000 will be warned that, from 28 February, their tax affairs will attract greater attention.

http://hmrc.presscentre.com/Press-Releases/Businesses-warned-on-late-VAT-returns-685cb.aspx

Marian Wilson, Head of HMRC Campaigns, said:

“After 28 February, if they have not submitted their outstanding VAT returns and paid what they owe, HMRC will use its legal powers to pursue outstanding returns and any VAT that is unpaid. Penalties, or even criminal investigation, could follow. “

Do you have a ‘reasonable excuse’?

HMRC have a flowchart so you can see if your excuse qualifies (but its pretty unlikely!)

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/vat-online/flow-diagram.pdf

If you can’t pay your VAT…

You need to contact HMRC’s Payment Support Service on Tel 0845 302 1435 – this service is available for individuals and businesses who have not yet received a payment demand.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8.00 am to 4.00 pm, excluding bank holidays.

Or you could get a loan…

The earlier you ask for a loan the better, lenders don’t like last minute requests as they will need to do credit checks etc before the loan can be approved. But there are lenders prepared to lend for VAT and other tax bills, as an example, here is a link to Lease Direct Finance/Investec who offer VAT funding http://www.ldf.co.uk/professions/Literature/vat.pdf

Don’t give the tax man a reason to closely scrutinised your business.

steve@bicknells.net

Are HMRC right to target small businesses? Reply

In 2011-12 HMRC raised £434m in taxes and fines from investigations into SME’s, that’s up 39% from £311m in the previous year.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/08b640cc-1914-11e2-af4e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2AFBSOARq

HMRC initiatives such as task forces have played a key role

https://stevejbicknell.com/2012/06/14/hmrc-launched-six-new-task-forces-in-may-here-are-some-tips-on-handling-enquiries/

Small businesses are much more likely to make innocent errors than larger businesses.

Organisations such as the FSB now offer protection to their members and their website states:

HMRC can investigate a business at any time, even years after it has closed. On average, an investigation takes around 16 months.

If you thought HMRC only targeted big businesses, think again. In 2011, 33% of the HMRC enquiries handled for members related to business with a turnover of under £150,000 and 71% of these had a declared profit of under £25,000.

Membership of the FSB give you immediate professional support and essential protection for tax matters.

http://www.fsb.org.uk/tax-protection

SME’s can also buy insurance from their brokers.

Should SME’s be given more help and guidance rather than insurance and penalties?

steve@bicknells.net

 

Reasons (Excuses) for filing your Self Assessment Return Late 3

Around half a million people who still have not filed tax returns for the 2010/11 tax year are about to receive fines of at least £1,200 as HM Revenue & Customs sends out its latest round of penalty letters.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/aug/14/hmrc-penalty-fines-tax-return

So here some examples of reasonable excuses:

  • a failure in the HMRC computer system
  • your computer breaks down just before or during the preparation of your online return
  • a serious illness, disability or serious mental health condition has made you incapable of filing your tax return
  • you registered for HMRC Online Services but didn’t get your Activation Code in time

And some that aren’t acceptable:

  • found the online system too complicated to follow
  • left everything to your accountant to do and they let you down
  • forgot about the deadline
  • did not try to re-submit your return on time once a problem with the IT system was put right
  • registered for HMRC Online Services after the filing deadline (eg 31 January for Self Assessment)

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/online/excuse-missed-deadline.htm#1

If you need to appeal against a penalties here is a link to form SA370

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/sa370.pdf

Whats’ your excuse?

steve@bicknells.net