Businesses need to keep adequate business records so that they can complete their tax returns correctly.
A pilot programme of Business Records Checks (BRC) began in April 2011. This involved checks by HMRC on the adequacy of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises' (SMEs) statutory business records. SMEs are businesses with an annual turnover below £30 million who employ less than 250 people.
Up until 17 February 2012, 3,431 BRC had been carried out. These found that 36 per cent of businesses had some issue with their record-keeping of which 10 per cent had issues serious enough to warrant a follow up visit.
Following a review, HMRC announced a fresh approach to its pilot BRC programme on 3 February 2012.
The review of the pilot programme, which included discussions with trade and professional bodies' representatives, found clear evidence that the programme was effective in improving record-keeping practices amongst SMEs. However, it recommended that the checks were better targeted in future, and linked to wider education and support activities.
In order to implement the review's recommendations all new BRC activity was paused from 3 February to 31 October 2012 to allow HMRC to redesign the BRC process.
A new approach to BRC started on 1 November 2012. Customers who are more likely to be at risk of having inadequate records will be contacted by letter to arrange for HMRC to call them to go through a short questionnaire.
Depending on the outcome of this call, HMRC will confirm to some customers that no further action is required. Where some issues are identified, customers will be offered targeted self-help education options. Customers who are assessed as being at risk of keeping inadequate records will be referred for a BRC visit.