Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Thursday 14th April, 2016
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is increasingly focussing its enquiries in relation to corporation tax issues in the UK on the affairs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
At least that’s according to a recent study that found the UK’s main tax-gathering body increased the amounts of money recouped from SMEs as corporation tax by some £489 million over the course of the 2014/15 tax year.
As an organisation, HMRC is obliged to narrow as far as possible the gap between what it ought theoretically to gather through corporation taxes and what it is in fact able to deliver in that regard each year.
The latest research, which has been compiled by the accounting firm UHY Hacker Young, suggests that the tax-gathering body has stepped up its pursuit of SMEs in relation to corporation tax in order to bolster its efforts aimed at closing that gap.
According to the most recent estimates, the corporation tax gap in the UK remains as wide as £3 billion and some, including UHY Hacker Young, have suggested that HMRC now views SMEs as something of a ‘soft target’ in this context.
“HMRC appears to be aggressively going after small businesses as ‘easy pickings’ and it’s possible they will look to accelerate investigations next year and beyond to further close the gap, rather than going after big enterprise,” said Roy Maugham, UHY Hacker Young partner.
“The substantial closing of the tax gap for SMEs and non-movement by bigger companies is a clear demonstration of the increased pressure by HMRC on SMEs to fill the shortfall,” he said.
Maugham went on to suggest that HMRC is taking a unfairly disproportionate approach in its efforts relating to the pursuit of small and medium-sized British companies, as compared to its dealings with major international corporations.
He points out that bosses of SMEs are generally far less able than their larger counterparts to easily allocate time and resources to resolving any disputes or dealings they might have with HMRC.
“Understandably, the public is increasingly frustrated about large companies failing to pay their fair share of corporation tax, whilst SMEs feel they are shouldering much of the tax burden by repeatedly coming under fire from HMRC,” he said.
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