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HMRC survey of mid-size businesses

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HMRC has published a report on the second wave of its annual survey of mid-size businesses (those with a turnover of £10m or more and/or more than 20 employees). The main research involved telephone interviews with 1,800 businesses between October and December 2016, followed by further in-depth interviews with 20 businesses in February and March 2017.

The report looks at:

  • experiences of mid-size businesses in dealing with HMRC;
  • perceptions of current tax administration;
  • attitudes towards tax compliance; and
  • awareness and perceptions of recent tax policy.

The results remained broadly consistent with the first wave of the survey, carried out between October and December 2015. See

Commenting on the report in a client briefing, Andrew Hubbard (RSM) said: ‘HMRC can draw some satisfaction from the results of the survey, which show a consistent improvement across a wide range of criteria. For example, 47% of businesses report overall confidence in the way in which HMRC is doing its job compared with only 15% (down from 19%) who said the opposite.’ 

Hubbard drew attention to the finding that 37% of businesses thought that tax avoidance was widespread, whereas only 20% said the same about tax evasion. This was despite evidence, including HMRC’s tax gap figures, showing that the tax lost to avoidance (£1.7bn) is much smaller than that lost to evasion (£13.8bn in all its forms). ‘So, the perception of businesses is significantly out of line with reality', Hubbard said.