HMRC Webinars Make Tax “hassle-free” for SMEs
Small businesses and self-employed workers trying to grips with their tax obligations can access advice online, following the launch of a series of live webinars by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The half-hour free broadcasts will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A session where business-owners can ask HMRC experts follow-up questions about the topic at hand. Businesses that miss the live webinar will be able to watch a pre-recorded version at any time.
Seven topics are to be covered in the initial series of 25 webinars that will run every weekday until the end of February:
- You, self-employment and HMRC
- Business expenses and capital allowances
- Ltd company –an overview
- First steps as an employer
- Construction industry scheme for contractors
- Construction industry scheme for subcontractors
- How VAT works
HMRC has published a full schedule of live webinars on its website and said ‘library content’ will be available shortly.
An HMRC spokeswoman said the online workshops were designed to reach more business-owners than the Revenue’s regional face-to-face workshops:
“Using online channels allows us to support many more businesses in understanding how to manage their tax affairs. For example, anyone can attend a live webinar, and the library content will be there for everyone to access.”
The idea was to support businesses who find tax “daunting” and make it as “hassle-free” as possible, she said.
“The initial webinar programme is based around some of the big stages that small businesses may go through, such as becoming self-employed, taking on an employee, and registering for VAT. However, we will be expanding this over the coming months to respond to other customer needs.”
Tax expert Elaine Clark of Cheap Accounting welcomed the online workshops as an introduction to tax, but said that businesses should not rely on HMRC advice alone when planning their tax affairs. This was because HMRC was likely to offer a very conservative interpretation of tax laws.
“For example, HMRC will tell you that if you’re a limited company paying yourself a salary and taking dividends is illegal, but it’s not,” said Clark. “We all know the tax laws are open to interpretation. In my view, the best people to give the best tax advice are the people who take the laws as they stand and interpret them in the most tax-efficient way.”