It was interesting to meet HMRC representatives at the Essex Branch CIOT/ATT meeting last week, and they seemed a pleasant and friendly bunch. However, of the contingent of six (v attendance of only about 25 members) a couple had come all the way from Yorkshire to Chelmsford. I could not quite see how this was cost-effective.
I took the trouble to make notes, but cannot see on re-reading them that I really learned very much. One lady was able to assure us that they were working hard to improve the website, including the deplorable search function (generally it is better to tell Google to search the HMRC site) and to tell us that we practitioners had been re-labeled as “tax agents and advisers”, an unexpected re-branding from outside. Maybe they will stop calling their hapless taxpayers “customers” but the customer word was repeated during the meeting a number of times so any move from upstairs has not reached the grass roots.
I did get some reassurance that HMRC is still interested in the small fry compliance failures such as letting income, casual earnings and bank interest (historical interest at present in more ways than one) and that they were still keen on rounding up reluctant customers. This sort of work is welcomed by me for one, and I do not see why anyone should get away with not paying tax which should be due. I am all for tax planning and saving clients tax, but am definitely not in favour of tax evasion planning!
I sent out my tax newsletter out this week. The Budget was not very nice; in fact rather depressing, though I did avoid it by being away. Still, there was no escape from the email and I am thoroughly up to speed. I have little hope that the Finance Bill will be scrutinised any more than others in recent years. Frankly, there was little help for small business and and it seems unlikely that MPs even understand anything about trusts and the proposed 50% tax rate from next April. Still, they have the exposure of their expenses to worry about. Frankly, even many of their “justifiable” expenses paid by the Exchequer would be taxable in an ordinary mortal's hands. They are like anyone else entitled to indulge in property dealing, but please, not with my money. No names, no pack drill, but some of the shenanigans I have heard of these past few days might be treated as trading liable to income tax rather than capital gains exempt due to flipping properties within the private residence rules. Some of this might be beyond HMRC now in terms of enquiry windows depending on how it was all reported to HMRC at the time.
In May we are definitely into the new season of tax returns etc.. I do like to meet face-to-face as many clients as possible at least once a year. The two I met with last week are really both some of the nicest people I know and they cheered me up. I learned a while back not to work with clients with whom I felt the relationship was difficult because there is much less pressure if we like our clients and they like us.
I am always on the look out for more nice clients and am trying a couple of new marketing strategies including some positive networking with as much giving as possible. I will let you know how I get on. Maybe barbecue networking will catch on in the long hot summer the Met Office is forecasting?
Have you submitted your Tax Return yet?
On our bikes
Exemplary Consulting for Business Support
Follow me on Twitter