There’s been a steep rise in the number of personal penalties imposed on corporate senior accounting officers (SAO), according to new research.
Figures obtained by the law firm Pinsent Masons show a 50% rise over the last five years; there were more than 100 last year alone. Financial and retail sectors were the worst affected.
The SAO system was introduced in 2009. Large companies must appoint an officer who is personally accountable for tax arrangements. The officer can be fined up to £5,000 for system failures.
A spokesman for Pinsents said: “Putting finance directors in the firing line is a definite escalation of HMRC’s tactics.
“Given the scale and complexity of the money flows in large businesses, simple errors in the finance department can result in mis-reporting and subsequent fines. Finance directors need to understand all the requirements set out by HMRC. The policies, procedures and systems in place to ensure tax compliance need to be carefully monitored to avoid the potential for mistakes.”
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