Trade specialist tax inspectors “can reduce mistakes”

THE MOVE to create teams of specialist revenue inspectors focussing on certain trades will remove mistakes that can come from generalist officers, leading accountants have said.

HM Revenue & Customs today announced it would setting up teams that will specialise in particular industries, starting with the restaurant sector in London, a move which has been universally welcomed in the tax investigations profession.

John Cassidy, tax investigations partner at PKF, said: “Getting a visit from an HMRC team is never likely to be a pleasant experience, but a team of specialists ought to be able to avoid the sort of sweeping assumptions and mistakes that generalist officers often make.

“At a time when many have accused HMRC of dumbing down its operations through call centres and the like, this could be one step in the right direction.”
Paul Roberts , head of tax investigations at Grant Thornton, said the focus on the restaurant sector had “come out of the blue”.

However, Tim Lyford, national head of corporate tax at Smith & Williamson, said the focus is not surprising. The tax affairs of restaurants can get particularly complicated, he added, and many restaurants can be caught out by grey areas, such as the difference between improvements and repairs.

Gary Ashford, chairman of the CIoT’s management of taxes subcommittee, said: “Those in the restaurant trade with overseas assets may want to look at whether they might also benefit from the other current disclosure facility, the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, which, in some circumstances, is the best option available for those making disclosures to HMRC.

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