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Small businesses yet to trust HMRC’s online systems

Anyone who has their own small business will perhaps understand how frustrating it can be to deal with HMRC at times, especially if there is the potential of punishment when a mistake occurs. The tax authorities have attempted to make the customer experience a simpler one in recent years, but the results of a report issued by HMRC suggest there is a lot more to be done.

In 2018, HMRC carried out a great deal of research in regard to how and why small businesses contacted them, and the findings are perhaps a little harsher than the tax body would like. The bottom line, it would appear, is that a number of individuals and companies prefer to talk directly to an advisor rather than use the organisation’s online portals.

Many of the questions asked by those who made contact could very easily been answered by the HMRC website, but it seems personal interaction is preferred. The feedback HMRC received indicates that many service users feel the tax authorities don’t particularly understand the way small businesses operate, and failed to comprehend the pressures that are involved in managing a company’s tax affairs.

Fear of making an error has sapped confidence

Business owners are concerned about making genuine mistakes that could lead to hefty fines, and feel that the current online system doesn’t give them confidence in issues including the receipt of payments, understanding certain terms and processes and checking their expenses. Although these issues are covered by their online services, it seems small businesses need more convincing of their usability.

One of the areas in which HMRC could make significant steps to being more user-friendly is via updating accounts and issuing payment confirmations. The current portal doesn’t send such information, and that situation will continue with the advent of Making Tax Digital. The end result, sadly, is likely to be a continuing lack of faith among the small business community.

Overall, many small business owners find the tax system rather intimidating, and the fear of making a genuine mistake online has led to them continuing to contact the authorities by phone instead. Having an HMRC representative to talk to and to explain concerns to is seen as preferable to an online resource that they’re not entirely sure about.

Here at FourM, we’re only too happy to discuss the various taxation issues that can affect you and your business. To find out more about what we can do for you, just call 01382 480 488 to speak to a member of our team.



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