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Small businesses that miss tax payments due to financial pressure from the credit squeeze could be hit by annual interest and surcharges of 24 per cent.

The warning comes from tax adviser Alan McCann, who is urging companies to ensure borrowing problems do not hinder the prompt settlement of tax bills.

“The credit squeeze may well be a blip, but it has a lot to do with confidence which is notoriously unpredictable,” said McCann, a director at UK top 30 accountants and business advisers DTE.

“As a result, financial pressure could filter down and mean businesses have less cash than they might otherwise have anticipated. The upshot is that it has rarely been more important for businesses to have enough funds to meet tax bills within HM Revenue & Customs’ deadlines.”

Late payment could be especially costly for sole proprietors and business partners who pay their income tax and national insurance liabilities in two instalments on 31 January and 31 July.

Failure to pay on time triggers a daily interest charge equal to 8.5 per cent per annum. In addition, if payment is not made in 28 days, HM Revenue & Customs automatically levies a five per cent surcharge, with further surcharges six months later.

Alan McCann added: “This means that if a business had not paid its 2005/06 bill, due on 31 January 2007, until September 2007, it would be charged interest and surcharges at an annual rate of approximately 24 per cent.

“Clearly, such a heavy interest cost should be avoided, particularly as the tax man does not grant relief against profits for any interest and surcharges paid.”


Media inquiries: David Chadwick (Public Relations) on 01204 497085, mobile 07905 859686

Notes to editors:

DTE is a professional services group, ranking in the UK top 30 accountancy practices, with a turnover of £18m. The firm employs over 200 staff and delivers a full service offer from offices in Manchester, London, Birmingham, Bury, Blackburn and Wolverhampton.

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