9am Lowdown: Farron calls HMRC’s New Year honours “a farce”

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Good morning and welcome to Wednesday’s Lowdown.

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Farron says HMRC’s New Year honours is “a farce”

“Giving gongs to the HMRC and others like this in the Honours List is a Reward for Failure,” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said.

Six HMRC members of staff were honoured in the 2017 New Year honours list – including Sarah Pearson, HMRC’s head of customer services for personal tax, who received an MBE. According to The Sun, Farron said: “HMRC have had the worst year, not only billions of pounds has not been collected from the biggest tax dodgers, but the average punter has been made to wait for hours on the phone on hold. It’s a farce.”    

However, an HMRC spokesperson defended Pearson’s recognition, saying she had “driven through” considerable improvements at her site in Cardiff.

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AirBNB lowers price gap due to tax advantage

One third of the savings AirBNB offers customers when they book a room in London comes from tax advantages.

According to The Guardian, AirBNB only charges VAT on its service fees, unlike traditional hotels, which have to pay business rates on its property and charge VAT on the entire cost of the stay.

In a statement given to the FT, Airbnb said “The overwhelming amount of money generated by the Airbnb platform stays with hosts and their communities.

“The Airbnb model is unique and empowers regular people, boosts local communities and is subject to local tax. It also makes Airbnb fundamentally different to hotel groups and companies that take large sums of money out of the places they do business.”

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HMRC launches SA talking points

HMRC is running self assessment dedicated Talking Points throughout January and added a selection of videos to its YouTube channel to assist with common queries, according to HMRC’s latest Agent Update.

The first Talking Points meeting starts tomorrow and covers trade losses; the second meeting on 12 January looks at self assessment filing and paying; the third meeting on the 18 January explores capital allowance and vehicles; and the final meeting in January covers basis periods.

The Talking Point meetings in February will explore a variety of topics: Domicile, tax avoidance for insolvency practitioners, apprenticeship levy, Intellectual Property Office, and 2 step verification will all feature in meetings throughout the month.

You can register for any of the above sessions here.

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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04th Jan 2017 10:04

I received the email regarding the SA talking points yesterday. It opens up acknowledging how busy January is for the profession, and then goes on to offer a series of talking points meetings in January, thus diverting further time away from SA.

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04th Jan 2017 16:35

"AirBNB lowers price gap due to tax advantage"

No it doesn't. The people who let their rooms out don't (for the most part) charge VAT because they are under the VAT threshold. If a B&B happened to be under the threshold and was advertising in the Warmington-on-Sea Herald, would they say that the Herald was lowering B&B prices?

That's what Airbnb is. A modern place for lettings' businesses to advertise. And Airbnb charges VAT on the services IT provides, leaving the B&B/homeowner to charge VAT on the services IT is providing, if they are over the threshold.

Airbnb don't own the properties, don't rent them out, don't service them. They just advertise them. The VAT point is just ridiculous.

Same with the rent-a-room relief. How do Airbnb benefit from that? They don't but the homeowner might.

It's just another 'bash an internet company' media story run by people who either don't understand how tax works or are willfully misleading people.

Besides, how can you compare a 200 room hotel with somebody letting their spare room out at the weekends? Do people not think the former might have higher overheads and need to charge more?

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