9am Lowdown: Super rich, penalties & to-do lists
Good morning and welcome to Friday’s Lowdown.
* * *
Super rich gets perceived preferential treatment, warns PAC
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised HMRC for appearing to have "one rule for the rich and another for everyone else".
As reported by the BBC, the PAC told HMRC chief Jon Thompson that it was "alarming" that at any one time about a third of high net worth individuals were likely to be under inquiry for unpaid tax.
For example, the report highlights tax evasion in the football industry, where 43 players, 12 clubs and eight agents were currently the subject of "open inquiries" by HMRC.
The PAC chair Meg Hillier said: "If the public are to have faith in the tax system then it must be seen to have fairness at its heart. It also needs to work properly. In our view, HMRC is failing on both counts.”
* * *
Tax return penalties spike last year
HMRC has imposed more than 8,000 tax returns penalties against inaccurate or deliberate errors in 2015-16 than the previous year.
According to figures obtained by RSM under the Freedom of Information Act, HMRC is taking a “harder line” against inaccuracy, with a rise of 38 per cent last year. The data shows HMRC enforced 28,663 penalties in 2015-16.
RSM’s Mike Down said: “This spike in penalties suggests a marked change in attitude at HMRC, and it is clear that Inspectors are now taking a much harder line.
“However, HMRC needs to be wary of the perception that they are engaging in ‘penalty farming’ and ensure they don’t unfairly penalise people who are not seeking to deliberately deceive.”
* * *
SA: Prioritise your time
With days to go before the self assessment deadline, your to-do lists are probably out of control. If this sounds like you, there’s lot of methods and tools to help you.
On CABA's Industry update page, the accounting charity has picked five ways to help stressed accountants manage their time more efficiently. One of these methods is the Ivy Lee Method – and the simplest to implement.
At the end of your day make a list of the six important things you want to achieve the next day, and rank these in order of importance. The next day you should concentrate on that task until it is done. Then, rinse and repeat.
CABA adds: “It may sound over-simplistic, but the fact that you limit yourself to 6 tasks (or fewer, never more) makes this method more effective than making a to-do list.”
Head across to CABA’s industry update page to find out the other four time management tips and tools