Warning to firms over their books

SMALL businesses in the region are being advised to get their company records in order ahead of a surge in visits from the tax inspector.

Finance expert Keith Williamson, partner at North Shields-based accountants Bell Tindle Williamson, issue the advice as a HM Revenue & Customs campaign started that will see 50,000 business visits during each of the next five years.

Inspectors have a brief to investigate the standard of companies’ record keeping, with fines of up to £3,000 available on those that do not come up to scratch.

And companies failing to pass the test could see enquiries opened into the accounts and tax returns for which their questionable records form a basis.

Mr Williamson said: “HMRC are getting increasingly efficient at squeezing the last drop of tax and associated income out of their ‘customers’, as we are all now known, and this latest campaign has the potential to bring even more money in if businesses aren’t fully prepared for an inspector’s visit.

“The fines that could be imposed are bad enough in themselves, but the amount of time and money that carelessness could cost businesses in the long term if their records aren’t up to scratch is a real sting in the tail, especially when they could be avoided with a bit of thought and a logical approach to the task in hand.”

Mr Williamson has outlined a series of steps that companies can take to make their record keeping as watertight as possible.

He said: “Whether the taxman pays your business a visit is clearly beyond your control, but being ready for him if he does is not.

“All SMEs would be well advised to take a careful look at their record keeping to make sure that it is accurate, complete and contemporaneous, and given that they deal with them on a regular basis, to get the professional opinion of their accountant on the records.”