By Rob Downes - 7 December 2012
Here in our third and final Autumn Statement series of blogs, we take a look at the Chancellor’s announcement on tax evasion and avoidance.
Many small businesses know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the tax man’s unsolicited advances. Many will also be familiar with the ineptitude of HMRC in dealing with even the simplest of things. Even getting through on the phone can often pose problems at busy times for the small business owner desperate to discuss a tax issue.
So there was some good news on Wednesday, and that was the Chancellor pledged that HMRC will have no budget cut like other Government departments. This should, and we stress ‘should’, mean a better service for small businesses in 2013 who need to get in touch with HMRC and who expect some semblance of customer service.
But perhaps the headline news was that the Chancellor will be employing a further 2,500 new tax inspectors specifically to look at the operations of big business to make sure they are paying exactly what they should be.
Companies like Starbucks and Google have brought this on themselves. Starbucks have thus far been the highest profile casualties of those companies who shirk their tax responsibilities. There will be more.
The Chancellor said from the dispatch box on Wednesday how prosecutions for tax avoidance were up by 80%. That figure is bound to rise with HMRC getting its coffers boosted to the extra tune of £77 million specifically to fight tax avoidance by large corporates.
But we expect little pity from small business, who have always been expected to pay up their dues, on time and in full - with penalties even for being a day late.
So then it’s right big business is treated in the same fashion. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as the old adage goes. We are, after all, ‘in this together’.