Tax office closures ‘will reduce collection’

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CHANCELLOR George Osborne’s plans to close 137 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices will undermine efforts to reduce the amount of tax that remains uncollected, it has been claimed.

This month it was revealed that Wingfield House in Commercial Road, Portsmouth will close in 2018-9, and Lynx House in Cosham will shut in 2025-6. It is part of a reorganisation that will see 43 offices in the south replaced by two regional hubs.

The SNP’s business spokeswoman Hannah Bardell suggested the majority of the UK’s tax gap of £34bn could be made up by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) having better advice and guidance on their tax affairs.

But the decision to close HMRC offices around the country will undermine this and increase the errors and miscommunication that leads to tax remaining uncollected from SMEs, she said.

Ms Bardell said: ‘Small and medium-sized enterprises account for the largest proportion of the overall tax gap, £16.5bn, followed by large businesses with £9.5bn.’