Guide - HMRC: Payment issues and advice
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) play an incredibly important role in regulating and controlling the taxes, duties and customs payable by the majority of businesses. All companies will, at some point or another, have to co-operate with HMRC and some may struggle to meet the demands asked of them by this branch of the government. Interaction with HMRC can often be complicated and misunderstandings do take place. With this in mind, it’s important that any company has its payment procedures in order and knows how to seek advice or help if necessary.
Recently, there have been a number of changes made to the way in which business and HMRC are expected to handle PAYE tax payments. The most significant of these is the switch to the real-time provision of all necessary information to the department of businesses. This alteration to procedures is intended to make the process simpler for organisations in the long run, streamlining the amount of information required and helping to avoid an annual tax return. While such changes may be easy for large business to adapt to, many smaller and medium sized businesses may find it a little more difficult.
Problems can largely be avoided by ensuring that a few precautions are taken. The first of these involves making sure that the organisation has implemented payroll software that is able to handle real- time information collection and transfer, and can do so competently. The software will need to be updated regularly to ensure that it is maintained well, operates without bugs and that the systems remain responsive to change. Any organisation that employs less than ten members of staff can utilise the free software provided by HMRC for this purpose. Alternatively, there are a number of other pieces of free payroll software that are adequate replacements.
Employee information in order
All that is required within the new system are employees’ names, date of births, genders, addresses and National Insurance numbers. It is important that all this information is accurate, that it is stored securely and that the software being used has access to it. It is often the case that employee information quickly changes, so it is important to have procedures in place that enable staff to easily provide new information when necessary.
All on the same page
Many businesses will either delegate the task of payroll to a specific part of the business or outsource it to a payroll bureau or accountant. If this is the case, it’s important that good levels of communication are maintained with the rest of the organisation and that everyone is on the same page. Much of the confusion that arises currently during tax returns is due to miscommunication and could easily be avoided if there were clearer channels of communication created. Corporate recovery specialists such as Moorfields can assist you with the tax collection process and offer advice regarding any problems you may have.
HMRC are usually fairly strict when it comes to difficulties with payments, particularly when it comes to small and medium sized businesses. However, they do offer some advice as to what to do when faced with payment difficulties. If a business thinks that it may struggle to make payments on time, it is likely to approach other creditors first in an effort to find support through this period, and then look to make cuts to expenditure wherever possible, potentially freeing up a little more capital. HMRC are particularly cracking down on businesses applying for more time to make VAT payments, despite their claims that they’ll try and help small businesses as much as possible.
There are a number of support services available to those individuals and businesses that require help and advice. The foremost being that provided by HMRC. In recent months the HMRC has run face to face events for businesses looking for aid in implementing necessary changes for PAYE restructuring. They have conducted seminars over the internet and are constantly trying to release information concerning tax and related payments through emails and on the web. If a business does require advice it is a much better idea to seek it through a dedicated support service or professional experts and advisors, rather than attempting to find their way through the process alone.
Strict timeline in place
All businesses need to ensure that strict guidelines and timelines are in place to keep interaction with HMRC as smooth and simple as possible. Organisations will have their own ways of dealing with tax issues, depending on their specific circumstances and business structure, but it is important that these are well known to all in the business and that they are followed comprehensively. This should keep companies ahead of the game and prevent them from finding themselves in a position where they struggle to catch up.