Records checks scheme to continue while under review

THE TAXMAN will continue with its target to carry out 12,000 business records checks by April while conducting a review of the initiative, Accountancy Age has learnt.

HM Revenue & Customs announced that it was reviewing the controversial scheme following criticisms that it was unfairly targeting smaller businesses. It said it will “examine whether the current approach is the best way of achieving the policy objectives, and identify what changes are needed to ensure that the objectives are achieved”.

However, an internal email from HMRC’s Coleraine office, which is co-ordinating the initiative, drew attention to the statement but did not instruct for fewer visits to be carried out. It is understood that a delegation from the UK office is planning a visit to Coleraine to check on progress towards the target.

Guy Smith, senior policy adviser at Abbey Tax, said: “HMRC seems to be playing a game of smoke and mirrors. On the one hand it is [saying] it is listening and limiting the number of BRCs, to ease the burden on SMEs, but on the other hand its national BRC unit in Coleraine is carrying on as normal. There is even a meeting planned in Coleraine for this Friday to discuss progress in achieving the target.”

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