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Small businesses ‘worried about dealing with tax authority’


Small business owners are plagued by worries over dealing with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), a new study suggests.


Research carried out on behalf of the tax authority and the Office of Tax Simplification reveals that many SMEs fear that mistakes in their taxes will lead to a visit or inquiry from the taxman.


Just under a quarter of respondents said they had problems in obtaining a definite answer to a tax question, and 30% said they had difficulty understanding the information provided by HMRC officials.


The report also states that only 45% of firms ‘have confidence that HMRC staff give the right answer to their questions,’ while nearly 50% of small businesses said they were concerned they may have made a mistake even though they maintained accurate records.


Despite their concerns, many of those who had actually had dealings with HMRC said they found the experience more helpful and less frightening than first anticipated.


‘Whilst many have experienced no problems, some small businesses can be disappointed in the quality and clarity of the response they get to questions from HMRC. This can cause significant frustration and increase reliance on other advisers,’ the report reads.


HMRC is currently reviewing its procedures to ascertain how it can adopt a more helpful approach.


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