Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has warned the Government that their plans to change the system for tax returns requiring small businesses and the self-employed to file online returns four times a year risks becoming an administrative nightmare for already overburdened small businesses.
Mr Carmichael has highlighted Government plans to digitalise the system via free apps and software linked to HMRC. This, he says, could prove problematic given the Government’s poor record with digital programmes, but is bound to be particularly bad in the Northern Isles because of the inadequacy of broadband provision.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
“These changes by the Government are all done in the name of reducing the bill for tax administration for businesses. Of course that would be welcome but the people most directly affected, the businesses themselves, see things differently. They know best and they should be listened to.
“Orkney and Shetland are home to a range of diverse businesses who already have to overcome challenges in running their operations. These businesses are often a world away from tech-savvy London enterprises who hire hundreds of accountants and enjoy downloading new apps and software. My experience from talking to local businesses in the Northern Isles is that the system of tax administration already provides enough problems. I do not see how adding 3 extra dates for lengthy tax returns will allow our businesses to do what they do best – creating growth in the local economy and providing valuable services for the community.
“If the Government is serious in its stated aim then it should first carry out a trial in one area before trying to implement this across the whole of the country.”