This time we feature our regular Capital Taxes round-up together with a handy comparison on the differences between SDLT and the Scottish version 'Land and Buildings Transaction Tax'. Those of you north of the border will be pleased to know that we are tracking the progress of your devolving tax system!

We also have updates on self-employed losses (uncommercial trades), averaging for farmers and a new guide that tells you all you want to know about QCBs. Scroll on down for more.

A new report by the National Audit Office reveals that HMRC cut too many customer service staff in its dash to go digital back in 2014/15. It estimates that this cost taxpayers some £97 million in wasted time as they waited and waited for someone to answer the phone.

The issue with 'digital by default' is that taxpayers are for the moment all human and that technology is imperfect. The trouble I feel at HMRC is that it is setting too much faith in the wonders of IT. Let me tell you about us.

I estimate that we lose a whole month a year due to bad technology. A lot of that is down to the arrangement that puts BT in charge of our broadband and a lot of that time is waiting on automated services to fix problems with IT. I was delighted this week to find that phoning Microsoft was really easy and that it took a matter of minutes for a human to assist me with a technical issue. The underlying issue was less easy to clear up (drivers not working due to Windows 10), but a human took control and seven hours later fixed it. Given the size of Microsoft I was half expecting that another computer would be linked to mine and then some kind of auto-fix would happen. This is clearly not possible which says an awful lot about the complexities of a Windows operating system.

HMRC, in its drive to quarterly digital reporting, is expecting that software companies will simply write the odd algorithm and 'hey presto' you have instantly accurate books and records. If things were that easy Microsoft would not need people at all, but clearly they still do. The challenge going forward is finding a balance whereby the technology works with us and does not cost us more time; I hope that HMRC grasp this. 

Back soon

Nichola Ross Martin FCA Tax Director


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Quick news (freeview)

PAYE/RTI penalties: 3 day grace period extended
HMRC's RTI penalty concession, giving employers an extra three days to report their payrolls online, extends until 2017.

The NAO tells of HMRC collapse between 2014 and 2015
A new report by the National Audit Office (NAO), 'The quality of service for personal taxpayers', reveals that HMRC misjudged its customer staffing in its move to automate telephony and change to paperless self assessment in 2014 and 2015.

Consultation: Reform of corporation tax loss relief
Following the announcement at Budget 2016 that companies will be able to use trading losses brought forward more flexibly in the future, HMRC has launched a consultation about how the proposed reforms could be implemented.

Consultation: Tax deductibility of corporate interest expense
The UK must make a restriction on the tax deductibility of interest must be introduced in order to comply with the OECD and the BEPS project. HMRC are seeking views as to how the restriction should work. 

Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) reviews
Important if you are developing software: current projects include further work on the alignment of income tax and NICs, this focuses on reform of NICs, and a review of how to simplify the corporation tax computation.

Practical Tax Guides & Updates 

Capital Taxes round-up May 2016
NEW: A summary of recent capital taxes announcements, developments and cases.

SDLT vs LBTT: comparing the additional residential property charge
NEW: This guide compares and contrasts the SDLT higher rate charge for residential properties and the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement.

Losses (sideways): restriction on relief for uncommercial trades
UPDATED: Two new cases added.

Farmer's averaging relief
UPDATED: Includes worked example and planning points for the new legislation from 2016/17 enabling results to be averaged over five years.

Loan stock: QCBs
NEW: Guide to the tax treatment of QCBs and non QCBs, including a number of relevant case summaries.

Editor's choice  

Finance Bill 2016: tax update and rolling planner
Keep up to date with all developments and announcements for the 2016/17 tax year and beyond with our rolling planner.

Land & Property: an Adviser's Tax Update May 2016
A summary of all the latest news and updates from all areas of property taxation with links to our detailed guidance on each topic.

Missed last time's update?

Nichola's SME Tax Update 20 May 2016


  • What is an ordinary share?
  • Entrepreneurs relief
  • How to appeal a tax penalty
  • Property profits and losses: toolkits
  • VAT flat rate scheme update

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