Business and accountancy groups across the country have warned that HMRC's bid to extract four online tax returns annually from small firms will mean unnecessary red tape for many who remain unaware of the changes.

The government confirmed last year that regular digital tax returns would be implemented in 2018, with the move controversial as it appeared to roll-out in a hasty manner and lacking in detail about what firms must do.

Frank Askew, head of tax of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, told the Treasury Select Committee: "We as professional bodies want to support the road to digitisation…but the way at the moment it’s being framed, the terms of the consultation mean it’s very difficult for our members to give their support."

Indeed, Mike Cherry, head of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that he believed the changes would mean small businesses losing out to the tune of an additional £2,770 a year as regards filing tax returns.

“The idea that you’re bringing it in for sole traders and landlords in the first tranche before testing it properly, before bringing it in starting with large businesses…I think we are going about this in the completely wrong way," he said.

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