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Business Records Check Telephone Questions

Does anyone have a list of questions asked please? I have just received a copy of a letter to a client stating that the call will be on or soon after 7/1/13 unless she calls before. My immediate reaction would have been to make the call for her but having read other posts on AW am a bit concerned that it may  go against her. I am thinking of having a meeting beforehand and letting her make the call on loudspeaker with me by her side. Must brush up on my handsignals. I had also thought of writing and asking for the questions in writing bt guess that might trigger an enquiryMy client is a sole trade beauty therapist with £20k turnover, working from home not full time. Records are good but of course there are cash receipts & I do believe her that they are fully declared. She even gives me details of treatment courses paid and not complete at ye, stock and exact mileage figures. However she has no real understanding of why I need all these details - she is just doing what I have advised and I think she will be totally petrified and confused when she is asked questions. Any suggestions or details of what we can expect would be appreciated.


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11th Dec 2012 12:59

Do the professional thing

How could having her tax advisor field the call go against her? As she is just doing what you have advised, it falls on you to handle this professionally yourself. Remember, there will be questions crafted to entrap the inexperienced.


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By riksti
11th Dec 2012 13:18


Have a look here for some example questions and ICAEW commentary:

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11th Dec 2012 16:45

Call HMRC yourself!!

The call is voluntary so there is no reason why HMRC should take umbrage and even if they do - tough.

You probably know far more about your client's records than she does, but if there is anything that you have to ask her about, you can call HMRC back.

To be frank, having HMRC speaking directly to small clients who mostly won't have a scooby what they are talking about just makes my blood run cold. Remember that it is very easy for your client to tell HMRC things which are quite wrong simply out of ignorance, but it is terribly difficult to "unsay" them. Remember.... HMRC - Dog - Bone.

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11th Dec 2012 16:46


"The phone call should eliminate most clients who use accountants."

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11th Dec 2012 21:45


paulwakefield1 wrote:

"The phone call should eliminate most clients who use accountants."

HMRC's secret strategy is revealed at last - death rays transmitted by 'phone.

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15th Dec 2012 15:15

same letter - must be the trade

I too have today (two days later than yours) received the self same letter for a beauty therapist client - in this case he not she - keeps great records, has a bookkeeper who goes in qtrly (overkill as not vat registered) and analyses all teh records from his manual book (yes still have clients who use manual salon books!!) and prepares accounts in quickbooks before submitting to me. 

Like the OP he has advised that he does take cash and this too is all recorded etc (except the amounts spent on tea/coffee and loo rolls but even they are reconciled in an IMPREST system type way.

I suspect these are just record checks targeted against this sector - I wonder who is next ......(how about MPs.... !)



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21st Dec 2012 16:08


I have been in attendance for two substantial BRCs and I advise you to attend otherwise the Inspectors will let their arrogance hang out. They need to be kept in place and prevented from assuming that the various bits of personal expense etc that they will inevitably find were not deception or avoidance, but "in the course of running a business and getting one's priorities right. 

You have to remember that they have no conception of commercial life and that they would treat your client like a wayward customer of HMRC rather than the owner of the civil service shop. Expect an amazing nit-picking session right down to the number of tea bags in canteen expense.

Why all this. I suspect that when Self Assessment was fully road-tested they had a lot of left over unemployed inspectors!







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21st Dec 2012 16:23

Also remember

That if there is a sniff of IR35 involved ..... you'd better be there to ensure that your client(s) are not stitched up like kippers.


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14th Jan 2013 17:14

business type

I don't know what geographic area the OP and respondends are but there is definitely a trend. I know 2 people not clients personal friends one is a hairstylist the other a nail technician who have both had this recently. There is definitely a script as they know each other and concurred they were both asked identical questions. Neither are represented by an accountant formally but both take advice from another accountant. I think its an HMRC sweep of businesses in this trade sector who potentially handle cash and therefore need scaring if they are not represented. They both said it was ok but that to me implies they got what they wanted and consequences may follow later though having said that both of them are straight with record keeping and probably aren't hiding anything. It surprises me that they picked a represented taxpayer and perhaps the OP does need to get involved as maybe HMRC overlooked their gatekeeping. 

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By Monsoon
06th Feb 2013 12:40

Another beauty therapist

This is interesting - my BRC client is also a beauty therapist. I'm still not sure whether to take the phone call myself or not - I'd rather she suffer a phonecall than a visit.

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07th Feb 2013 16:37

BRC letter same sector

BRC letter today, client is a hairdresser.  I intend to make the call on behalf of my client and found the ICAEW commentary above an interesting read.

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16th Mar 2013 13:42

I've had a few if these myself and have a list of the question which I will post. The questions are always the same and do not differ at all for each client.

Have been told they are targeting mainly cash businesses and they are selected in groups, majority being hairdressers/taxi drivers

Obviously, the more cash they deal with HMRC deem them to be more at risk...this being the case for 8 clients I have (all hairdressers/barbers) who have impeding visits to look forward to.

I have it on good authority that it does not make a different if the accountant answers on the clients behalf, the questions (except for the first 2 not being asked) and the 'scores' do not change.

When will HMRC realise this is a waste of everyone's time?

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16th Mar 2013 13:55

Record Check beings with two
Record Check begins with two statements:

I understand what I need to do to meet my obligations (rate 1-9)

I need help understanding official HMRC forms (rate 1-9 but other way around from above)

Q1 Do you have an accountant?

If not, do you have anyone else helping you? (Beware this seems to score many points if its a family member!)

Q2 How long have you been in business?

Q3 Roughly how many sales or business receipts do you receive per month?
1-10, 11-100 or 100+

Q4 Roughly how many of your sales or business receipts are in cash?
None, one third, half, over half, all

Q5 How often do you update your business records with your sales or business receipts?
Daily, weekly, monthly, Annually

Q6 Roughly how many purchases and business expenses do you have per month?
1-10, 11-100, 100+

Q7 Roughly how many of your purchases and expenses are in cash?
None, one third, half, over half, all

Q8 How often do you update your business records with your purchases and expenses?
Daily, weekly, monthly, Annually

Q9 Can you tell from your records which of your expenses were for a personal use?

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