Chartered Accountants Chiene + Tait have scored another piece of great coverage in respected Scottish lifestyle magazine, The Scottish Field.
In the article, the firm said there is particular growing unrest over the mandatory requirement for all VAT returns to be submitted online from 1 April, 2012 because of the unreliability of internet connections in rural communities.
Tax Partner Helen Mackenzie said the pace of change with regard to internet use is becoming unnerving and the announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement that 10 UK cities will see improvements to their broadband access has done nothing to ease concerns.
Helen said: “We are concerned that rural businesses are increasingly being asked to provide very complex information to separate regulatory bodies – either online, handed in to a local office or sent by post. There isn’t a uniform way for rural business owners to give regulatory information by very specific deadlines.
“In particular, HMRC’s insistence that VAT forms have to be submitted online from next April will be unwelcome in many rural areas where there are unreliable internet connections.
“Without better infrastructure being put in place from broadband companies, rural businesses and farmers will continue to face an unnecessary extra burden and additional costs.
“We know that many of our clients are uncomfortable with online filing. How can you insist on filing online if you are working outdoors all day or have poor internet access?
“The fast pace of change is unsettling for some and unrepresented businesses that don’t have an accountant that can help them, could be in trouble.”
Helen also believes HMRC’s advice for businesses with no internet access, or those who have never used a computer, or feels competent enough to use one, is also inappropriate.
She added: “HMRC is telling people to buy a computer, use someone else’s, or go to the library and use one there. That doesn’t seem to be the best response to the issue. HMRC is ignoring the time pressures already placed on the rural sector in running a business in the current climate.”
Chiene + Tait is now advising that unless there is an unlikely change of direction from HMRC, all VAT registered businesses should proceed to register for online VAT filing before 1 April 2012. Chiene + Tait’s VAT department will be delighted to assist with this; please therefore contact 0131 558 5800 or email Tax Partner Helen Mackenzie at [email protected], or VAT Director Lynn Gemmell at [email protected]