Letter: Small firms fear self-assessment

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The Independent Online
Small firms fear self-assessment

Sir: Your report "Self-assessment causes chaos at Inland Revenue" (26 September) explains the problems within the Revenue but not the difficulties caused to those who will have to deal with self-assessment.

As I travel round the country meeting small firms they tell me of their concerns about self-assessment and the mandatory fines it will entail. In the light of these concerns you might expect ministers to be keen to ensure that businesses have all the information they need so that forms call be filled in correctly. Yet during the summer it was decided that only firms with over 100 employees would receive a guidance pack on self- assessment.

Given that large firms are likely to have whole departments who can advise on this kind of matter it seemed bizarre that they should be given this help, whilst small firms were left to fend for themselves. I wrote to the Chancellor about this on 17 September , and on 23 September the Revenue announced that in a change of plan they would be sending information packs to firms with over 50 employees. They seem to have missed the point.

The Labour Party does not have a problem with the principle of self-assessment but we believe it has been introduced over-hastily and in a chaotic manner. It should not be small firms who pick up the pieces.

BARBARA ROCHE MP

(Hornsey and Wood Green, Lab)

Shadow Small Business Minister

House of Commons

London SW1

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