HMRC launches new online tax forum for small firms

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has launched a new online tax forum and dedicated webchat service for small businesses and the self-employed

According to HMRC, the Small Business Online Forum offers a "quick and easy way for small businesses to get answers to their tax questions", as well as access help with starting and growing a business, selling and buying overseas, completing tax returns and claiming tax credits.

Mel Stride, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General, said: "The UK's 5.4m small businesses play a vital role in our economy. We want to help businesses get off the ground and support them as they grow.

"That is why [we've launched] a new forum and webchat service, which will give these [businesses] useful hints and tips - including how to complete tax returns, grow a business and trade outside the UK - so that they can continue to flourish."

The Small Business Online Forum is part of the government's business tax roadmap, which was announced at Budget 2016. A pilot was launched in March 2017 and the forum has since attracted more than 1,000 registered users.

HMRC is eager to point out that the forum "does not deal with questions about taxpayers' individual circumstances". Comments that include personal information will be deleted, it said. And while "no personal or case-specific information is posted on the forum, customers may be offered help through HMRC's webchat service and their personal case handled by an adviser".

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has welcomed the launch of the forum. Ian Cass, FPB chief executive, commented: “We've been consistently asking the government and HMRC, on our members' behalf, for a simplification of all things tax-related for small businesses.

“The launch of HMRC's online forum is an excellent step in the right direction in giving our member businesses access to an easy, user-friendly source of advice. We look forward to working with HMRC as the forum develops.”

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