Tax & admin · 2 August 2017

Online HMRC forum launched to give small business owners direct tax advice

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The forum and webchat service will connect small business owners with HMRC advisors

A new online HMRC forum has been officially made live, offering company owners a place to ask questions relating to every stage of starting and growing a company.

The forum, launched 2 August, acts as a live message board and displays comments and discussions between self-employed business owners and HMRC’s tax experts.

While no personal or case-specific information can be posted on the forum, a dedicated webchat service is also on offer, where a case can be privately handled by an advisor.

Categories currently include starting (legal structures and record keeping), managing (tax returns and exports) and growing (industry support and employment law) a business, with a separate area for tax credits.

Open public posts already cover areas such as Making Tax Digital updates, first year tax returns and Class 2 National Insurance contributions.

In an official statement, Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, said the online HMRC forum would act as a valuable resource for founders and freelancers.

“The UK’s 5.4m small businesses play a vital role in our economy. We want to help businesses get off the ground and support them as they grow,” Stride said.

“That is why we are launching a new forum and webchat service which will give these companies useful hints and tips – including how to complete tax returns, grow a business and trade outside the UK – so that they can continue to flourish.”

The official launch of the online HMRC forum follows a pilot in March 2017, with over 1,000 registered users already posting questions.

An HMRC spokesperson got in touch with Business Advice to clarfiy the tax office’s commitment to supporting the self-employed.

“Several new projects and initiatives have been introduced for small businesses, but we are not complacent and continue to make further improvements in the design and delivery of a professional, efficient and engaged organisation,” the spokesperson said.

Commenting on the forum, Claire Walsh, of chartered financial planning firm Aspect 8, said: “People can often be scared of tax and end up burying their heads in the sand when they have a question so this sort of service will be really useful.

“I’m a big fan of anything where you can get a question answered easily and quickly and think this is a really good thing for [HMRC] to offer.”

New Making Tax Digital timetable lifts three million small firms out of transition

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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