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Accountants face stormy Tax Season

Communities in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire are still swamped from the tag team barrage of Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank.

Many accountants, particularly in Cumbria have seen their offices flooded. Stuart Jones of 3CA Accountants in Kendal is in this position and now has the unenviable task of facing the self-assessment season with a ruined office. “Our downstairs was about a metre deep, so we moved upstairs, but we’ve lost all our computers and many of the records.”

HMRC has set up a tax flooding helpline (0800 904 7900), but accountants who’ve called the helpline have all struggled to get conclusive answers on precisely what allowances will be made for accountants in their position. HMRC’s stock response is that they can’t help me with any client who doesn’t owe HMRC money and expect accountants to write in for every individual client to ask for reasonable excuse exemption. With the tax office’s normal response turnaround time for correspondence being on average 12 weeks, this does not bode well.

HMRC staff want to quit in large numbers

The Sun newspaper has revealed the results from the major annual people survey which illustrates the low morale felt by HMRC employees, with many of them expressing their deep despair.

49% of survey respondents said that HMRC is being ‘managed badly’; with 24% admitting that they would either want to leave very soon or certainly ‘within the year’.

The survey’s results stoke further criticism of HMRC following Chief Executive Lin Homer’s New Year’s honour recognition – who The Sun has dubbed ‘Disaster Dame’.

New Year’s Eve Tax Return surge

Thousands of people apparently celebrated New Year’s Eve by easing their tax return burden, with HMRC reporting that 24,546 people spent the final hours of 2015 submitting their self-assessment tax return online, with a further 11,467 people ticked submitting their tax return off their New Year’s resolutions the next day.

HMRC rejects PTA petition

The new personal tax accounts (PTAs) will require most businesses, self-employed people and landlords to keep track of their tax affairs digitally and update HMRC at least quarterly, but a petition demanding that they scrap plans to force individuals and businesses to report quarterly under HMRC’s digital strategy, has been rejected.

In an official response to the petition, HMRC stated that “Quarterly updates will largely be a matter of checking data generated from record keeping software or apps and clicking ‘send’ and will be much less burdensome and time-consuming than it is today.” If you believe that you also probably think that the moon is made of cheese!

Leaving aside the distinct whiff of bovine excrement accompanying the official response, all is not lost as the petition, which started on 16th December, has now reached over a 100,000 signatures, meaning that it will be now be considered for parliamentary debate.

Government Minister urges households to “treecycle”

The festive season has been a tad light on tax announcements but Communities Minister Marcus Jones urged people to reduce, reuse and recycle their Christmas rubbish in his “treecycle” campaign.

I read the press release and it mainly consists of advice on the best way to cut up your Christmas tree for mulching or composting in your garden. So if that’s the most important issue for the government to publish on their www.gov.uk/government/announcements website, then apparently world peace has been achieved and global warming isn’t happening!

And a Happy New Year to all readers of this Blog

Image of David Jones Shrewsbury Accountant and Founder of Morgan Jones

If you would like more detailed information on some aspect of UK Tax, send me an e-mail and I’ll be pleased to advise further.