HMRC’s push for digital accounts continues to raise concerns in many sectors and also amongst business professionals.
Accountants, privacy experts, politicians and charities are voicing growing worries about HMRC’s ambitions to “fully digitise” the tax return system.
They claim that vulnerable groups will be penalised for not wanting to use the internet, that the quantity of data and information sought by HMRC will increase administrative burden and costs, and that the trend to push everything online will result in far more tax investigations without necessarily raising extra revenue.
They also predict that – whatever it says to the contrary – HMRC’s ultimate intention is to obtain highly detailed data “equivalent to the individual entries on a bank statement”. This is most likely to result in more frequent and earlier demands for payment.
HMRC Digital Accounts Push Causes Major Concerns
There are two prongs to HMRC’s push to “create the most digitally advanced tax system in the world”. One is the introduction of “personal tax accounts” for all individuals, aimed at the majority of people whose tax affairs are relatively simple and who don’t necessarily have accountants.
Here, individuals’ online tax accounts will be updated automatically by HMRC with information it has obtained from other sources. You would log on, for instance, and see those entries relating to your wages or pension, any taxable benefits you receive, such as the state pension, and any interest earned on your savings in bank or building society accounts.
The second digital drive relates to small businesses, landlords and the self-employed: these groups will now have to report information to HMRC on a quarterly basis.
This has already caused a storm of controversy, with 150,000 small business owners petitioning against the change. They argue that quarterly reporting would cost time and money for no gain to the business or HMRC.
What do you think of this approach? Will it benefit or hinder the SME and individuals? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @OmnitasTax – call us if you have any concerns about the new system and would like free, impartial accountancy advice from our expert team on 01902 837408.