Business and Tax Round-up
HMRC introduces new system to tackle scam phone calls
HMRC has introduced a new system designed to prevent criminals from spoofing government helpline phone numbers.
According to HMRC, criminals often use ‘official’ helpline numbers to convince taxpayers to part with large sums of money. In 2018, HMRC received 104,774 reports of so-called ‘phone scams’ – a significant rise when compared to 2017’s figure of 7,778.
The new system, which was developed in partnership with the telecommunications industry and regulator Ofcom, will help to prevent fraudsters from using official-looking phone numbers, and will thereby assist taxpayers in recognising genuine HMRC helpline numbers.
Commenting on the issue, Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘This is a huge step forward in the fight against phone fraud.
‘Vigilance will always be important, but this is a significant blow to the phone cheats.’
The implementation of the new system is just one part of HMRC’s plan to safeguard taxpayers from fraud. From June, individuals seeking to pay taxes over the phone will be required to enter their payment details using their phone’s keypad, as opposed to giving them verbally.
OTS calls for review of PAYE system
In a new report, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has called for the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) system to be reviewed, to ensure tax agents can ‘see relevant client information’ and ‘access a number of key services’.
The report suggested that tax agents ‘don’t always have full access to their clients’ PAYE records’. In addition, the current PAYE system ‘does not handle the fluidity of the modern workplace very well’, according to the OTS, especially in relation to changes of job mid-month, multiple jobs, concurrent employment and self-employment.
Commenting on the report, Bill Dodwell, Tax Director at the OTS, said: ‘It is time for a new review of PAYE, to look at areas where the inputs from employers do not work well and how they are processed by HMRC to update tax codes and the new personal tax accounts. The review needs to update PAYE for modern working patterns.’
The report also proposes creating a ‘PAYE-like experience’ for the self-employed, in order to allow them to set money aside to pay future tax liabilities.