Are HMRC setting up as tax advisors?

The following caught my attention today:

Growing businesses to benefit from expert tax support

A new service to directly help mid-sized businesses as they expand and grow, has been launched today by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

There are around 170,000 mid-sized businesses registered in the UK. Businesses with either a turnover of more than £10 million or more than 20 employees, and undergoing significant growth, can now seek expert help from HMRC growth support specialists.

Known as the Growth Support Service, HMRC tax experts will offer dedicated support, tailored to the customer’s needs. It has been created to help growing, mid-sized businesses access the information and services they need.

This could include:

  • helping with tax queries about their growing business
  • supplying accurate information and co-ordinating technical expertise from across HMRC
  • supporting them to get their tax right first time and access relevant incentives or reliefs

Am I the only practitioner a little uneasy that HMRC are now originating and advising on the application of tax legislation?

Hasty opinions – lost fees

There is a temptation when speaking with clients to confuse information with advice.

A client may open-up over a pint or glass of wine, telling you about a problem that they may have. The problem may be one that you have dealt with many times before, with other clients, and before you realise what you are doing you reel off the advice that the client needs. Your advice is exactly what the client wants to hear and he rushes to the bar to buy you another drink. “Cheers, that’s just what I needed to know.”

The advice you have spilled out will save the client £3,000 a year. You have been paid a glass of Chardonnay.

With the benefit of hindsight you should have said “Can you leave that with me, I may have a solution that would save you £3,000 a year. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” The client is still beaming, and may still buy you a glass of wine, but come tomorrow you may well be able to confirm your advice and agree a realistic fee for doing so.

There is a difference between communicating information and giving advice. In the above example, there is no reason to provide the advice on the spot. In fact, giving yourself time to sleep on it, you may come up with a better solution. And there is no shame in delaying advice in this way. You will have worked hard to gain the knowledge so why not exchange this for value?

I wrote this blog for Informanagement, and it is reproduced with their permission.

Back to school already?

Welcome back. Summer holidays are over for most of us, perhaps a half-term break to look forward to, and then Christmas, and then January!

I rested my daily/weekly blog posts for most of August and invested time researching the GDPR. Next year, the end of January will bring short relief, as the need to comply with the GDPR kicks in 25 May 2018, but more on the results of my endless conversations with the Information Commissioner’s Office next week.

What I need this week, are a couple of volunteers. I am writing a policy and procedures manual, and a check list that will provide practitioners with a quick-start process to achieve compliance with the GDPR. I would like the material proof-read, and I invite readers to offer constructive criticism and have a discussion about the value of the work I have produced. There is probably an hours reading material, but if you take part, I will make sure you are sent a complimentary copy of the final bundle.

Look forward to hearing from you:, mobile 07879 896073.