Small business groups 'deeply concerned' about quarterly tax returns

30th December 2015

A host of industry lobbying groups and owners of UK small businesses fear the cost of quarterly tax return filing could drive thousands of micro firms to the wall.

The Forum of Private Business (FPB), which represents thousands of small businesses across the country, forecasts that the proposed quarterly filing regime by the Government will cost micro businesses £600 more a year in fees; while companies that employ staff will also see their costs rise by £500 to £3,400.

As many as four million people are likely to be affected by the proposed changes, which go out to consultation early in the New Year.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed its members are “deeply concerned” about the changes.

John Allan, national chairman, FSB, said: “Adding more reporting appears out of step with wider Government attempts to reduce the regulatory burden and to streamline tax arrangements.

“The UK’s self-employed will particularly struggle with this change.”

In fact, one particular boss of an unnamed micro firm stated it would be “better to go on the dole than try and run a business” under the suggested new tax return regime.

The FPB warns that many British businesses may not even be capable of complying with the new rules, given that many parts of the country still don’t have high-speed broadband, and the portal for reporting accounts “is not robust enough as it is”.

According to data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), two-in-five self-employed professionals are either unable to use the internet or need help using Government online services.

Ian Cass, managing director, FPB, added: “We simply do not feel there is the infrastructure for this level of reporting.

“Tax administration is in many ways the worst type of regulation for small firms as the system is so convoluted and byzantine that they are unable to figure it out themselves, placing themselves in the hands of tax advisors, software companies and HMRC.

“Yet it is the owners who count the cost if anything goes wrong, so they have no control but total responsibility.”

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