Belfast Telegraph

Businesses praise new tax initiative

By Robin Morton

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has welcomed the introduction of a new initiative by the Inland Revenue to spread business tax payments over a longer period.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said that the scheme had already enabled companies in Northern Ireland to spread tax payments totalling £67m over a period they could afford.

FSB spokesman Paul Givan said: “We welcome the introduction of this scheme by the Treasury as a means to address the difficulties firms have been facing with their cashflow.

“The evidence UK-wide shows that with 3,600 firms taking up the offer of spreading the costs of paying tax to Government this facility is helping, but ultimately all firms have to pay the various forms of taxation placed upon them by Government.

“What is needed is an overall reduction in taxation on business.

“One measure that would assist from the Treasury would be to lift the income tax and national insurance (NIC) threshold to £10,000. This would lift people on the lowest incomes out of paying tax entirely, including many self-employed business owners, and increasing the NIC threshold would help businesses as wages are one of the biggest overheads in a small business, and employers’ NIC is a direct tax on offering a job.”

A spokesman for HMRC said that during the first six months of the scheme agreements had been struck with 3,600 companies in Northern Ireland to phase in their payments. The Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) scheme was announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling in November's Pre-Budget Report.

It provides a fast-track service that offers support to businesses needing more time to pay their tax bills, and businesses can agree terms with HMRC over the phone.

Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Cashflow is critical to business survival and that is why, as part of its commitment to help the business community through these difficult times, the Government introduced the BPSS last year.

“It's good to see that the service is helping so many businesses in Northern Ireland.”

Belfast Telegraph