Get paperwork in order or face big fines

PM+M, which has offices in Blackburn and Burnley, is alerting businesses to the move, after a pilot scheme earlier this year identified 54% of checked companies had insufficient or inept records.

HMRC is quadrupling their business records check department, from 30 to 120 ‘investigators’, with an overall target of completing 12,000 checks by the end of this year.

Jane Parry, tax partner at PM+M, said: “These checks can be highly invasive and will unearth almost any discrepancies on a business’s books. At the moment HMRC are only empowered to issue a small penalty, but these powers will strengthen in the not too distant future.

“It is expected that penalties of up to £3,000 could be issued, and with more than 20,000 visits due to be scheduled for 2012/13, this signals a concerted effort by HMRC to seek out inadequate accounts in a broad scope of businesses.”

The details as to what constitutes a breach of the rules are not clear cut, as minimum record requirements will be dependent upon the size and type of business and there seems plenty of scope for debate with HMRC.