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The “full” story

January 2, 2015

If only they had missed out the word “full”.

Yes, I know, “full story” or “full release” is how they signal all their press releases on their twitter feed.  But still, for a Press Office – presumably full of communications specialists – it’s a remarkably cloth-eared phrase.

There was a smidgin of good news in there.  If you follow the link to the HMRC press release you will see a brief account of the VAT changes which came in on 1 January, but with the smidgin of good news spun into a bushel of support, as in “UK digital firms get support with new EU VAT rules”.  But…

@HMRCpressoffice While I think HMRC have done some sterling work mitigating worst results, this whole #VATMESS was still a consultation fail

— Wendy Bradley (@wendybradley) December 31, 2014

The MOSS itself is a laudable attempt to give UK businesses a single place (a “Mini One-Stop Shop”) to deal with the multiple EU jurisdictions.  Letting small businesses register for MOSS without losing their UK VAT exemption threshold is sensible.  Conceding that they can use the location information provided by paypal and their ilk is helpful (albeit described as a “temporary” concession).  You can’t, I suppose, really fault the way HMRC have responded to the nano business community once they became aware of their existence.  But why on earth weren’t they aware of their existence before the twitterstorm?

What was needed was some outreach during the consultation and publicity process.  But HMRC seems to have consulted with the “usual suspects”: the representative bodies and professional associations comprised in their “stakeholder” base.  Which is less than helpful if you are dealing with nano businesses – kitchen table craft businesses – too small to warrant using an accountant, too small to cover paying membership fees for something like the Federation of Small Businesses.

There were organisations they could have consulted with: writers organisations, for example, would have known about self-published ebooks and about conventionally published authors using their own websites to sell ebooks of their long tail publications once they have won back the rights.

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