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Customs seek remote access


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Press reports have suggested that HM Revenue & Customs (the new Department formed from the amalgamation of the Inland Revenue with Customs & Excise) are asking larger businesses to provide permanent remote access to their accounting systems.

This has, of course, raised many issues, not least that of data security. Additionally, it provides HMRC with much more time to identify possible accounting errors.

However, as one VAT Specialist, in a well-known plc commented to me, ‘they may not pick up where an error has already been adjusted.’

This will lead to time-consuming work for in-house accounts staff, in proving to HMRC that adjustments have been made.

There are also legal issues; does the VAT Act 1994 actually grant the Department this sort of unfettered access? Perhaps we will have to wait for a test case on this issue.

(Original article in Accountancy Age 10 Mar 2005)

March 2005

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