HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has refreshed its guidance concerning the application of the Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) rules.
The updated guidance can be accessed via the link below:
Changes have been made to every section of the guidance, so it is not possible to list all the changes here. Although the terminology and structure has changed, there are few significant changes in policy. Specifically, the main updates in terms of HMRC's view are in respect of:
Companies, and their agents, that have previously fallen within the SAO rules and those that will fall within the SAO rules in line with the updated guidance.
There are a few areas in the updated guidance where HMRC has changed its interpretation of the SAO rules.
HMRC will not consider charging penalties where companies and SAOs have followed previous guidance for any period up to the first period commencing after the publication of this revised guidance. Additionally, HMRC will apply a 'light touch' period to any companies that are brought into the SAO regime by its changed interpretation for the first period commencing after publication of the guidance - along the same lines as the ‘light touch’ approach that was applied when the regime was introduced. Finally, HMRC will not charge any penalties for previous periods where one would seem to be due under the previous guidance, but which would not be due under the revised guidance.
Where HMRC’s view has not changed there has been no need
to update the content of the guidance and HMRC would expect
companies and SAOs to continue to apply the SAO rules.
Issued 11 June 2012