Filing of VAT and company tax returns: sixty-fifth report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

On the basis of a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, this report examined HM Revenue and Customs on getting VAT and Company Tax returns in on time, encouraging businesses to file tax returns online. The Department spends over £9 million a year on processing nine million VAT and Company Tax returns but one in five Company Tax returns and one in seven VAT returns are filed late or not at all. The Department lacks information on businesses that repeatedly file late and the links between late filing and other forms of non-compliance. The penalty regimes are variable and the fixed rate penalties for Company tax are low and not routinely applied, so the Department should also look at non-financial incentives such as tax clearance certificates. Less than 10% of companies' use online filing and the Department does not expect to meet its target of getting 50% of VAT returns filed online by 2007-8 and plans for mandatory online filing for Company Tax have been put back to 2010. Online filing would save the Department most of its current processing costs and be cheaper for businesses. Additional plans to reduce the administrative burden of filing taxes are unlikely to be implemented before 2011.

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