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SIC codes come under scrutiny by HMRC

The UK Standard Industrial Classification of economic activities, abbreviated as UK SIC, is a five-digit classification that you normally select upon registering your company.

It has been well publicised that HMRC is targeting non-compliance within the Research and Development tax credits regime and is placing a company’s SIC code under greater scrutiny.

A more reactive element of HM Revenue and Customs strategy lies within its approach to the enquiries being raised. They have published a list of sectors that are actively being targeted as they are deemed to be unlikely to undertake genuine Research and Development activities.

These are:

  • Care Homes
  • Childcare Providers
  • Personal Trainers
  • Wholesalers and Retailers
  • Pubs
  • Restaurants

We are also aware that unofficially certain other sectors are also subject to scrutiny and we believe these to include:

  • Estate Agents
  • Textile Industries
  • Construction Sector
  • Educational Institutions
  • Consultancy Firms

Part of this strategy is for R&D tax credit claimants to require more robust procedures both before submitting a claim and as part of the actual claim itself.

We actively work with our clients who undertake Research and Development activities to ensure that these obligations are fully met.

HMRC uses the SIC code as shown on public record at Companies House to identify whether a company falls into one of the sectors above. We are aware that companies initially select this code upon incorporation based upon the business plan for company at that time. The activities of a company will naturally change over the course of its life and thus over time the SIC code may not best represent the current activities of a company.

The SIC code should be periodically reviewed to ensure the most appropriate code has been selected and we would recommend that this review is part of any planning for a Research and Development claim.

If you are unsure of your SIC code and wish to discuss these issues, please do not hesitate to contact our team.









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Don’t be an easy target for HMRC in 2019

Get insured against the costs of a tax investigation by HMRC

We are seeing more and more professional services firms – and their clients being investigated by HMRC for tax evasion. HMRC issued 1,414 production orders to accountancy, law and other professional services firms in relation to investigations into tax evasion according to this report by economia.

At least two Manchester United stars were reported to have been investigated by HMRC over alleged image rights tax evasion as the authorities opened new cases against top footballers in the Premier League.

As enquiries escalate amongst top flight footballers, tax investigations into the affairs of small business are also on the increase and we say it is because both groups are easy targets for HMRC.

Are you under investigation by HMRC?

Murray Patt, founder of Manchester-based accountants Alexander Knight & Co, said:

“It increasingly feels as if small and medium-sized businesses and Premier League footballers are two of the most targeted groups for tax investigations by HMRC.

“In the case of footballers, forming an image rights company to receive payments of up to one fifth of a player’s salary is actually a legitimate tax strategy approved by the authorities if set up appropriately.

“However, it’s logical for the authorities to launch investigations into high profile players who earn their wealth via multiple sources because it can be a rich source of extra income, particularly for players who are new to the Premier League from other countries where tax rules are different.

Get insurance for HMRC investigations 

“Let’s not forget that small and medium sized businesses are an even easier target. If you don’t take care as a small business owner you’re at risk of being pulled up over minor mistakes or small disparities, which could incur disproportionately heavy fines and penalties imposed by HMRC.

“It’s important to have insurance in place to cover the cost of an investigation if you are a small or medium sized business, since in most cases you won’t have the funds of a top-flight footballer. Don’t get caught offside by HMRC.”

Alexander Knight & Co will arrange insurance for you and your business against the costs of an expensive HMRC investigation. Don’t get caught offside by HMRC. Speak to our specialist tax team now on (0161) 980 8788.