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HMRC: No fines over name changes

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has denied claims by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) that a company is facing a fine of over £10,000 for failing to inform the taxman after it changed its name.

According to the forum, the unnamed business had an "exemplary" tax record but was originally hit with a penalty charge of over £30,000 under the Finance Act 1985 and the VAT Act 1994 because inspectors were not told it had changed from a partnership to a limited company.

This was despite the fact that it retained the same VAT number and the revenue did not lose out on any payments, it added.

The group said that the fine has been cut to around £10,000 following an appeal by accountants and the FPB's own tax advisor, Andrew Needham, and there are ongoing efforts to reduce it further.

The forum warned entrepreneurs that the case shows they need to inform HMRC of any changes to their business "no matter how small".

Needham said, "If this is carried through and sets a precedent, it could result in huge fines being imposed on small businesses which, in reality, have done very little wrong."

However, an HMRC spokesman told EN, "HMRC does not charge a penalty just because a business hasn't told us they've changed their name.

"There can be a penalty when we are not told about a more fundamental change such as a transfer of ownership where the new owner does not register for VAT on time. But we always take the exact circumstances into account.

"If the forum lets us have details of the case we will of course look into it to ensure it has been correctly handled."

By Andy Jowett

HMRC: No fines over name changes
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