News in brief: tax, European Commission, Millennials, tech

News in brief
News in brief

European Commission tackles corporate tax avoidance

The European Commission has announced proposals aimed at a coordinated EU-wide response to corporate tax avoidance.

Responding to the announcement, RSM corporate tax partner Rebecca Reading called the proposals a positive step towards stamping out aggressive tax practices practised by large corporates on European level. She claimed that they align well with the OECD’s tax avoidance measures announced last year.

“The UK is already on board with many of the measures introduced by the OECD and so there won’t be too many changes here for us to address,” said Reading. “However I do think it will be a different matter for a number of other countries who will now have to radically re-think their approach to tax.”

Millennials expect more from their employers

SMEs hiring millennials should be aware that they as a generation expect more from their management teams and require the most support in the workplace, according to a Cascade HR study.

Just under two-thirds (63%) of bosses said that workers of this generation required the most guidance and support from managers.

When asked about workers they’ve dealt with over their careers, 48% of bosses felt that millennial employees were more reliant on detailed targets and required regular progress meetings in order to stay motivated. However, the majority of bosses (89%) agreed that these demands for support indicated that millennials were highly career driven.

With millennials expecting more from their employers, 51% of managers admitted that it’s difficult to find and retain these workers for a long time. Baby Boomers were cited by UK bosses as the most loyal towards their employers (47%).

SMEs soon to be able to file tax returns by phone

Small businesses could soon be allowed to file their tax returns by telephone, according to financial secretary to the Treasury David Gauke.

Figures from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) show that two in every five self-employed workers are either unable to use the internet or need help using government services online.

The news has not been met with resounding approval however, as ReesRussell partner Jonathan Russell says: “The Government has never yet managed to provide a telephone service which has been successful so there is little prospect of one for businesses to file their information to be any better.”

Russell explained that one of the biggest fears of businesses doing things on the telephone is that, as with some HMRC forms, there may be seemingly innocuous questions asked which could open the business to greater scrutiny. He stressed that it should be remembered that HMRC terminology does not necessarily have the same interpretation that is common usage.

Fiander Tovell LLP head of tax Andrew Jackson expressed his own concerns: “Submitting information by ’phone is not an option, except for a very small numbers of taxpayers – the load on HMRC’s systems would be too high.”

SMEs wasting money on the wrong sort of tech

Many small businesses are investing in technology only for it to sit unused, according to research from First Data Merchant Solutions.

The survey questioned 1,000 SME decision-makers about how much tech is unused or now obsolete. The key findings from the report include:

  • 31% of decision makers at small businesses said that they have purchased technology that they have never used, or use much less than intended
  • Businesses run by men admitted to wasting more than women (33%/25%)
  • Of those businesses, 44% said the reason for that was that the technology didn’t work as well as expected
  • A further 31% said that the needs of the business evolved and the technology was unable to evolve with the business
  • A total of 26% said they believe they have wasted anywhere between £200 - £10,000

SME managers highlight auto-enrolment as biggest challenge for 2016

Managers of UK SMEs have identified the new legal requirement to automatically enrol staff into a qualifying pension scheme as one of the biggest business challenges facing them in 2016, according to small business support organisation Exemplas.

The challenges most frequently raised within the research were: finding employees with appropriate skills, lack of finance/funding and the time and costs of setting up pension schemes for employees, with the latter appearing to be of rising concern.

Out of those who identified a business challenge, one in five considered the time and costs associated with the auto-enrolment pension scheme to have potential for a big impact on them, with respondents even saying they feel bullied into it.

Exemplas chief executive Jill Barnes said: “One of the biggest challenges identified was the impact that the legal requirement for an auto-enrolment pension scheme will have on their already stretched time and finances. In particular, smaller companies we surveyed commented that they simply do not know where the money will come from to fund this scheme.”