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Taxman ‘aggressively’ targeting village cricket clubs

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HMRC is aggressively targeting village cricket clubs over unpaid taxes, according to accountancy firm Baker Tilly.

Amid reports the tax authority is upping investigations into middle-class professionals, the firm said HMRC is applying “aggressive approaches” to dealing with local clubs and is displaying “inconsistent settlement decisions” meaning clubs are not treated in the same way.

“Imposing penalties for what are arguably simple tax errors is an area in which HMRC is becoming particularly aggressive,” said Mike Down, head of tax risk and investigation management group at Baker Tilly.

“For example, if the ordinary ‘Middle England’ man on the street makes a simple mistake with the completion of his own tax return, he is considered easy fodder by HMRC in the ‘penalty farming’ game. Arguably, these general law-abiding folk are potentially more likely to meekly accept what HMRC say if they get something wrong.”

Down said Baker Tilly is acting on behalf of “half a dozen” cricket clubs, which are often run by amateurs or volunteers and cannot afford to pay a professional tax adviser.

Penalties have added up to as much as “a couple of thousand pounds”, which Down said was a “substantial amount for small clubs for doing little wrong.”

“The fear is that HMRC may be scrutinising unrepresented taxpayers who have made innocent mistakes and, as a result, bringing the full force of the very complicated tax law down on them,” he said.

Last week, The Daily Telegraph reported that the number of people being investigated by the taxman has doubled in one year and that HMRC was targeting professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and teachers who were more likely to settle any claims without dispute because they felt “anxious” when HMRC sent warning letters.


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