SMEs in the area will receive visits to check their records from 26 November onwards. HMRC intends to visit businesses throughout the UK over a 14-week period, ending with south Wales and the south west in February/March.
From today, HMRC will be sending out letters to businesses that it believes may be at risk of keeping inadequate records, advising them that it will be in touch by phone. The call will take businesses through a set of questions designed to assess their record-keeping affairs and, depending on the outcome, HMRC will then decide whether they would benefit from tailored educational support and whether a visit is necessary.
HMRC says that if businesses are keeping inadequate records, they will receive guidance on what to do. The department will then set up another visit after three months to check that the necessary improvements have been done. Businesses that fail to comply will be liable to a penalty.
The scheme was redesigned after an earlier version was piloted between April 2011 and February this year.
Although there was clear evidence that the scheme was effective in terms of improving record-keeping practices in smaller businesses, changes were made to ensure better targeting of checks and improved links to available education and support.
During the pilot, HMRC visited 3,431 small businesses. It discovered that, while 36% had some issue with their record-keeping, 10% of all the businesses visited had serious enough issues to warrant a follow-up visit.
HMRC is to move its online presence to the controversial new gov.uk site from next March.