Taxing times

From time to time HMRC decides to set up a task force to investigate the tax affairs of a certain business sector.  For example in the past it has reviewed car dealers in the Midlands and fast food outlets in London.  Now it is the turn of health professionals to come under the spotlight.

Announcing the initiative on 7 October, HMRC have given health professionals until 31 December to sign up for the campaign and until 6 April 2014 to pay any outstanding tax.  By doing so they will face far lower penalties than if they fail to sign up and HMRC subsequently discover amounts of unpaid tax are due.

Doctors, dentists, nurses and social workers are not covered by the campaign but the HMRC announcement highlights other health workers who they will be looking at including:

Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, chiropodists, podiatrists, homeopaths, dieticians, nutritional therapists, reflexologists, acupuncturists, psychologists, speech, language and art therapists.

Whilst the vast majority of health professionals will already have their tax affairs in order, the campaign is a reminder that being a health professional is not just about treating patients.  Managing diaries, booking appointments, invoicing and collecting fees, ordering supplies and preparing accurate accounts all take time out of the working day.  Larger practices may have the benefit of a team of back-office helpers but health professionals working in smaller practices may find themselves juggling patient time and treatment time to the detriment of income and professionalism.

That is when the services of a virtual assistant can come in handy.  Appointing a virtual assistant service to answer the phone, manage the diary, book appointments, invoice and file patient records can free up valuable time both for patient treatments and to provide some free time at the end of a full day.  Of course there are some tasks that a virtual assistant won’t be able to perform, such as being there to receive medical supplies, attend CPD training or complete tax returns but with time freed up from other tasks, at least the health professional will not be under as much time pressure when other tasks need to be completed.

In announcing their latest initiative, Marian Wilson, Head of HMRC Campaigns, said “I urge health and wellbeing professionals to take advantage of our quick and straightforward way of bringing their tax affairs up to date. Help, advice and support is available.” Full information including a video and direct phone number is available via the announcement on the HMRC website.

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