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Here at ClearSky, we want to keep you up-to-date with all the latest hot topics that may affect you and your business. This could be anything from IR35 to new legislations.

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Taxman gets tough on serious defaulters

It seems that barely a day goes by without a new addition to HMRC’s arsenal in its war on tax avoidance.

Whether it’s targeting individuals with fast-growing income, those who fraudulently claim repayments, or even snooping on social media, it appears the Revenue will stop at nothing to bring people who fail to pull their weight to justice.

Now the taxman is flexing its muscles again by referring more delinquent individuals to its ‘managing serious defaulters’ programme. The scheme, described as being the equivalent to a school detention, sees HMRC place people under close scrutiny and monitor their future activities.

… Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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Taxman slammed over “oppressive” penalty policy

HMRC’s approach to penalising self-assessment non-compliance should be overhauled to ensure it is fair and proportionate, according to a leading industry body.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has accused the Revenue of failing to adequately differentiate between deliberate actions and unfortunate errors on tax returns. The group claimed that existing policies are “nothing short of oppressive” and accused HMRC of acting unfairly.

Currently, delinquent taxpayers face a £100 automatic penalty if they fail to submit their self-assessment return by the given deadline. These fines can quickly escalate, reaching more than £1,000 in a matter of months. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Could budget squeeze halt tax avoidance crackdown?

Tax dodgers could be allowed to get off scot-free if predicted cuts to HMRC’s budget are pushed through by ministers.

Civil service union the FDA is warning that the new Conservative government could axe more than a fifth of the Revenue’s workforce as part of its latest cost-cutting drive. It is feared that HMRC and other unprotected departments will suffer the most.

FDA general secretary Dave Penman said the cuts would severely damage the Revenue’s chances of achieving the £5 billion target set by George Osborne. He claimed the taxman would need to keep hold of top-class employees if it had any chance of going after serial avoiders. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Taxman’s new fraud clampdown snares dirty dozen

HMRC’s latest crackdown on tax fraud caught 12 individuals on its first day of operation, the Revenue has revealed.

The taxman’s new taskforce is designed to target individuals and organised gangs believed to have fraudulently claimed repayments. The team, one of over 90 in operation, is expected to bring in up to £6 million.

Among those arrested included four in Eastbourne and two from Luton. Two further people were taken into custody in Scotland. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Osborne to target tax cheats in first ‘all-Tory’ Budget

George Osborne will soon deliver his second Budget of 2015, with aggressive tax avoidance expected to be in the chancellor’s sights.

Outgoing communities secretary Eric Pickles told the BBC earlier this week that he anticipates a Budget – Osborne’s first as chancellor of a Conservative majority government – “relatively soon.”

Paul Robbins, of specialist information provider Wolters Kluwer, predicts the chancellor’s famous red box will make an appearance in the middle of June. A new Finance Act would then follow before parliament’s summer recess. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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IT contractors on alert as skills shortage deepens

UK businesses could soon increase their reliance on contractors as they battle against the ongoing technology skills crisis.

The latest Report on Jobs survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) reveals that the permanent jobs market is twice as short of IT talent as its freelance counterpart.

This could see businesses turn to contractors as a way to plug the skills gap. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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London’s no longer calling for cloud contractors

The rise of Britain’s regional tech clusters has severely dented London’s reputation as the go-to city for IT contractors.

Recruitment firm Experis Europe found that the capital has fallen out of the top three destinations for freelance cloud specialists. London-based contractors received an average daily rate of £436 – compared to £520 in Bristol, £500 for Brighton and £494 in Cambridge.

Scotland dominated in terms of IT security roles, with Edinburgh and Glasgow leading the way by recording average daily rates of £495 and £425 respectively. London was pushed into third position on £420. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Conservatives urged to embrace freelancing revolution

The new Conservative government has been urged to recognise contracting and freelancing as a positive alternative to traditional employment.

Recruitment trade body APSCo (Association of Professional Staffing Companies) called on the incoming majority administration to “understand the desire of highly paid, knowledge-based professionals to create portfolio careers.”

Re-iterating its desire to see the appointment of a junior government minister with responsibility for flexible staffing, APSCo also said it would push for the creation of a new regulatory framework that distinguishes professional contractors from vulnerable workers. … Continue reading

By Mike Youds,

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Taxman accused of stealth raid on finances

HMRC has come under fire for boosting the Treasury’s coffers through a silent raid on savings and investments.

The Revenue’s own figures reveal that although its tax take is at a record high, only a small percentage of that is down to income tax. The rest is made up from a “stealth” combination of levies that have benefited from rising stock markets and increased consumer spending.

Income generated from stamp duty has skyrocketed by 80% over the last five years, while capital gains tax and inheritance tax receipts have increased by 62% and 40% respectively. Meanwhile, government income from VAT has jumped by 30% – meaning the levy now brings in more cash than National Insurance. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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Tech contractors bank on assignment boom

Tech specialists working within the financial services sector could soon be laughing all the way to the bank, as the UK’s skills shortage crisis continues to bite.

A survey by employers’ network Tech Partnership has identified technology roles within the banking industry as being particularly difficult to fill, with more than a third of businesses reporting difficulties. The average role is currently vacant for 91 days, compared to 86 days in the tech sector.

The study also revealed that 61% of financial services companies are suffering from a lack of available tech talent, higher than the technology industry as a whole (59%) and public sector organisations (55%). Large companies were said to be particularly vulnerable, with 72% reporting problems compared to 49% of smaller enterprises. … Continue reading

By Tim Moore Beecroft,

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