Leadership & Productivity

How to avoid the danger of HMRC and expense compliance breaches

5 min read

21 September 2017

Faced with the daunting challenge of ensuring that all employee reimbursements are legitimate and tax compliant, many businesses find themselves taking their eye off the ball as focus is placed on less troublesome areas.

Let’s be honest – managing employee expenses is never going to be the most fun part of scaling-up a business. It’s the unglamorous nature of the task that makes it such a potential hazard when it comes to HMRC expense compliance.

Faced with the daunting challenge of ensuring that all employee reimbursements are legitimate and tax compliant, many businesses find themselves taking their eye off the ball as focus is placed on less troublesome areas.

The consequences can be devastating. Any suspicious activities are liable to trigger a HMRC audit or investigation, with possible outcomes being fines, demands for back-payments and even prosecution.

Added to the potential financial penalties is the long-term reputational damage that can be caused to a business found to have bent the rules – whether it was deliberate or through negligence.

Growing strains

It’s a particular risk for any growing business as the expense checks and balances that may have been adequate for a small company struggle to cope with the demands of a larger and more complex set-up.

It’s helping businesses to handle this challenge that’s the focus for a forthcoming webinar by experts at webexpenses. It’s the information any growing business needs to make sure they don’t get caught out.

It identifies four vital requirements that need to be met in order for a company to enjoy fast and effective expense compliance management which allows an organisation to steer clear of any expense compliance pitfalls.

These four areas are:

1. An enforceable expenses policy

The bedrock of any effective expense management, it’s the combination of a robust policy and the tools required to monitor and maintain it. Without these two elements in place, your business has no way to protect itself against compliance breaches.

2. An effective approvals process

A streamlined and efficient approvals process is vital for any business that’s looking to scale up. Without this, the increased pressures created by an organisation’s growth create a compliance risk as finance teams are unable to handle the administrative burden.

3. A robust system of checks and balances

The biggest challenge with tax compliance is having the ability to identify those claims that, whether through error or fraud, fail to meet the requirements of a legitimate business expense. It means being able to properly police everything from mileage claims to petty cash payments.

4. Appropriate documentation needed

It’s no good having an effective expense set-up if you don’t have the detailed documentation and data that’s required to prove this to tax auditors and inspectors. You need to be able to show that every reasonable effort has been made to prevent a compliance breach.

The webinar will look at how technology is transforming the way that businesses are now able to meet all four of these requirements. It will show how the switch to digital systems helps to remove the pain from achieving tax compliance and VAT efficiency.

The information is based on the wealth of knowledge and experience that webexpenses has acquired through helping companies across the globe to find a smarter way to manage their employee expenses.

With automated processes and digital tools, a growing business can equip itself with a simple, effective and compliant management system which is future-proofed and ready to handle the challenges of scaling up.

The webinar takes place at 11am on Thursday, October 5th. Places for “The Top Four Pieces of Information Needed for HMRC Compliance” are strictly limited so make sure to book your slot today.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.