Parliament to debate quarterly tax updates after online petition receives more than 100,000 signatures

Hayley Kirton
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The petition was set up by a small business owner last month (Source: Getty)

People's dislike of filling in tax returns will become the topic of parliamentary debate in less than a fortnight after an online petition received more than 100,000 signatures.

The petitions committee, which considers petitions submitted to, yesterday scheduled a debate for a petition called "Scrap plans forcing self employed & small business to do 4 tax returns yearly" for the afternoon of 25 January.

The petition, which was started by small business owner Paul Johnson less than a month ago, has already received more than 107,000 signatures.

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When a petition reaches 10,000 signatures, government will issue a response, while, when a petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the petition is considered for debate before parliament.

In its response, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reassured those who had signed that the quarterly updates would not be as onerous as doing four full tax returns a year.

"These reforms will not mean that businesses have to provide the equivalent of four tax returns every year," read the official HMRC reply posted to the petition website. "Updating HMRC through software or apps will deliver a light-touch process, much less burdensome and time-consuming than it is today."

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However, today, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), which is a Chartered Institute of Taxation initiative, warned that placing such a high digital burden on small businesses could lead those which are not computer-savvy to become unintentionally non-compliant.

"The government’s approach is simplistic and betrays a worrying ignorance of how most businesses actually operate," said Anthony Thomas, chairman of LITRG. "Companies which do not already use record-keeping software, or are using software that will be incompatible with HMRC’s digital accounts, will have to spend a great deal of time transposing their business records onto new systems to satisfy HMRC – time spent in an activity of little or no value to them or their customers."

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