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HMRC keeps pressure on senior accounting officers

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The number of personal penalties levied by HMRC against corporate senior accounting officers (SAOs) fell slightly in 2016/17 to 115, according to figures obtained by Pinsent Masons. This compares with 181 issued in 2015/16, and 151 in 2014/15. Nevertheless, SAO fines have risen by 150% over the last five years. The SAO regime was introduced in 2009.

In 2016/17, the financial services and retail sectors saw the greatest number of fines (16 in each), while the biggest increase was in the energy sector (14 fines as against nine the previous year).

Jason Collins, tax partner at Pinsent Masons, said: ‘Given the scale and complexity of the money flows in large businesses, simple errors in the finance department can result in mis-reporting and subsequent fines’.

‘Putting finance directors in the firing line is a definite escalation of HMRC’s tactics,’ he added.