Newsletter issue - August 2010.

If the Taxman suggests he should visit your business as part of their Business Assurance programme, should you agree? The answer is, almost certainly not!

The Business Assurance programme involves Tax Officers offering to visit new businesses to help them understand what sort of business records they should be keeping. During the visit the Tax Officer will ask the business owner how they record sales, purchases and expenses, how they handle cash, and how they calculate and record drawings or remuneration.

These questions amount to a tax compliance check and any answers you give will be recorded by the Tax Officer.

What may not be recorded is any advice given by the Tax Officer in answer to your own questions. For example, you may ask: 'Is this expense tax allowable?' If the tax officer gives the wrong answer, and you act on it, you could be penalised in the future for getting it wrong.

Penalties for errors in tax returns are now dependent on your behaviour, so it is crucial that the Taxman does not form the impression that you have a careless approach to keeping business records. If you are offered a business assurance visit, either politely decline, or ask us to be present to ensure you are not tricked into saying something that may incriminate you in a future tax investigation. For any advice you need, you should talk to us, not the Taxman!