H M Revenue & Customs – Can We Trust Them?

Ray Stewart Business, General, Tax Matters Leave a Comment

I was asked this morning about the “friendly” face HM Revenue & Customs are putting on by sponsoring a tv show on channel 5 called “The Business Inspector”.  The series of 4 programs start this evening and are introduced by a local (to me) C4 Secret Millionaire Hilary Devey.  A spokesman for HMRC Stephen Banyard said he hopes the series will raise awareness of the need for good record keeping amoungst the small business community and reduce the £6bn a year lost by the Exchequer by a “failure to take reasonable care of the business records”.

[private_basic]I am an old sceptic.  The sponsorship of this series is a small price for the government to pay to try and reduce those losses by pointing out holes in the bookkeeping where those “pesky” cash transactions can unwittingly slip through your systems and not find their way into the formal records.

Another assumption by a desperately cash strapped government that business owners are completely unaware of their responsibilites to keep full records and that we must all pay our full share into their empty coffers.

I for one am sick of the dumbing down of all aspects in life.  It isn’t just the government, it seems to be lots of people who think we are too stupid to think for ourselves and if they respectfully point it out to us we will immediately pour lots of money into their pockets.

We had a classic example of this recently at a local garage when we changed Sue’s car.  On the day we took delivery we were ceremoniously handed over to the Sales Manager.  He then went through our sales choices.  Why did we not buy gap cover, how long were we going to keep the car so he could “check” that we hadn’t been sold a one year extended warranty if we were keeping the car for 3 years.  I found all this very insulting and told him so.  We hadn’t bought any extra insurances and were more than capable of making that decision without someone “checking” we knew.

Anyway, the way the car has been and the treatment we have had in the couple of weeks we have had the car means I am ready to get rid of it now.  I bet he didn’t have an insurance for that! And they will fall foul of the consumer laws if they don’t resolve the issue we have or at least give us the chance to upgrade it without us losing any money because of problems they created and blind alleys they led us up – but that is another post!

The friendly face of HMRC made me laugh because of the recent publicity given to the recent decision in the Huitson case (Huitson (R on the application of) v Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs published 29th Jan 2010.

The details of that case are too detailed for here but the essence of the judgement was that HMRC did not act illegally in changing the law in 2008 to be retrospective back to 2001 so that the arguments the tax payer was using to defend their position simply disappeared.

So you may think this was exceptional…

However, in the 1980’s they established this precedent in the Padmore case and got away with it so it was not a new tactic.

The moral then…

If our beloved government finds someone doing something they don’t approve of but which isn’t covered by the law at the time – don’t worry – they will just change the law and backdate the effect.

Not such a friendly face now is it?

We still haven’t had our by-election either since the sad death of David Taylor on boxing day.  Another demonstration of how scared the government are about losing face before the main election.  It probably also accounts for why the government, who have had £millions over time from the unions, are now grumpy with the BA staff strikes because of the timing just before the election is announced.

Not so much a friendly face – as two faced, or three faced or how ever many faces they need to con us all into re-electing them.

~Ray[/private_basic]

Ray Stewart
I am a qualified Certified Practising Accountant having passed my final exams way back in 1981. I actually can’t believe that was 37 years ago!! Anyway, I am now in my 60’s and I have been running my own business since May 1983. And before you ask, no, I have never regretted a moment of it! Part of the membership requirements of my professional body now dictate that I spend quite a lot of time on “CPD” - continuing professional education (one of their better ideas) - and over the last two years I decided to study business growth and marketing. I have learnt such a lot and that knowledge has radically changed my old “accountants” approach to business. It has made such a difference to the way I work and operate I feel that I just have to pass on this knowledge. It is simply too powerful to hold back!! - but I will try and do it in simple terms rather than expecting you to spend hours, as I had to, working through the difficult language that trainers seem to use to pass on their concepts. I hope you find the blog a useful resource and interesting place to visit as the months pass. I will do my best to keep up the flow - but if there are any topics you would like me to cover, then please let me know. Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart
Ray Stewart

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