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HM Revenue and Customs Brief 16/12


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Issued 11 June 2012

Updated Senior Accounting Officer guidance


HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has refreshed its guidance concerning the application of the Senior Accounting Officer (SAO) rules.

The updated guidance can be accessed via the link below:

SAOG - Senior Accounting Officer Guidance: main conIssued 1 June 2012tents

Changes have been made to every section of the guidance, so it is not possible to list all the changes here. Although the terminology and structure has changed, there are few significant changes in policy. Specifically, the main updates in terms of HMRC's view are in respect of:

  • The application of SAO rules during insolvency procedures. HMRC now believes that the SAO rules do apply in most cases where insolvency procedures were underway (see SAOG 11100+ and 15200).
  • The meaning of the turnover test for banks and insurance companies. HMRC is now of the opinion that the word ‘turnover’ takes its meaning from the Companies Act definition, and the test should be applied to all companies including banks and insurance companies (see SAOG 11232).
  • HMRC no longer believes that companies are only within the SAO rules in relation to their UK activities (see SAOG 11210).
  • HMRC now believes that there are no confidentiality/disclosure bars to prevent the disclosure of a late or the non-provision of an SAO certificate to a company (see SAOG 16500, 16600, 16610 and 16620).

Who needs to read this?

Companies, and their agents, that have previously fallen within the SAO rules and those that will fall within the SAO rules in line with the updated guidance.

Applying the updated guidance

There are a few areas in the updated guidance where HMRC has changed its interpretation of the SAO rules.

HMRC will not consider charging penalties where companies and SAOs have followed previous guidance for any period up to the first period commencing after the publication of this revised guidance. Additionally, HMRC will apply a 'light touch' period to any companies that are brought into the SAO regime by its changed interpretation for the first period commencing after publication of the guidance - along the same lines as the ‘light touch’ approach that was applied when the regime was introduced. Finally, HMRC will not charge any penalties for previous periods where one would seem to be due under the previous guidance, but which would not be due under the revised guidance.

Where HMRC’s view has not changed there has been no need to update the content of the guidance and HMRC would expect companies and SAOs to continue to apply the SAO rules.

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© Crown Copyright 2012.

A licence is needed to reproduce this article and has been republished for educational / informational purposes only. Article reproduced by permission of HM Revenue & Customs.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-06-13 17:15:35 in Tax Articles

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