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HMRC begins first phase of Business Records Checks

 

Over 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be targeted in HMRC’s first round of Business Records Checks (BRC).

 

Following a period of consultation, the taxman is already arranging visits to carry out checks on the records of small businesses. The visits were not due to start until July but HMRC has decided to introduce what it describes as a ‘test and learn’ trial.

 

In a briefing note, HMRC confirmed that it is testing BRC in a limited way between 4 April and 15 July 2011, which will involve 30 HMRC staff in eight locations (Edinburgh, Irvine, Manchester, Liverpool, Stockport, Sunderland, Sheffield and Portsmouth).

 

It estimates that around 1,200 businesses will be targeted during this initial phase of the programme.

 

Under the BRC programme, tax inspectors will have the power to impose fines of up to £3,000 for ‘record-keeping’ failures, although HMRC said it has ‘no intention’ of charging penalties during the testing period.

 

Some professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), had criticised HMRC for its ‘lack of consultation’ over the early start.

 

Commenting, the CIOT deputy president, Mr Thomas. said: ‘We need to be sure HMRC staff will not be expecting the smallest businesses to have perfect records written up every day. That is simply not appropriate. What counts as adequate records needs to have regard to the sort of business.’

 

It is believed that the records of around 200,000 businesses will be checked over the next four years, netting the Treasury an estimated £600m.

 

We can help keep your business records in good order – please contact us if you would like further information or assistance.