Friday, February 04, 2005
Stay Offline and Pay Double
In 2000/1 the Inland Revenue tried a model where those who sent their tax returns in online got a £10 rebate. It was probably too early for that to work and few were interested in just £10. Five years on, Companies House is having another go. But they're charging you more if you use the paper channel. A disincentive to do things the old way! The new prices take effect this month and, helpfully, they've left their old prices available for comparison. I'd like to say easy comparison, but they've swapped some things around and added a few new descriptions so it's not easy at all. The numbers might appear small, but they're obvious. Sending in your annual corporate return (which pretty much just says who the directors and shareholders are and what the main addresses are) is £15 if you send electronically (which is how much it cost last year to send by paper) and £30 if you send by paper. That's not quite what I was expecting. You'd think it would be cheaper to do it electronically this year than it was to do it on paper last year. But no, in a cunning strategy, if you want to do things the same way you did last year, you have to pay double. And if you want to pay the same then you have to go online. Other things are better: Same day incorporation goes from £80 to £50 and only £30 if you do it online. There are some other changes but the overall trend seems to be down. I'm impressed - both at the idea of a disincentive to use paper and that Companies House are first in. I wonder what the reaction of the small business community will be? Choice (a) is that it will be seen as a further tax on business, (b) that it will be seen as government working the efficiency angle, (c) that Companies House never made money on the old fees so had to raise them to stay afloat, or perhaps (d) the right strategy to get people to switch to online methods where prices can be brought down over time.
Posted by Alan at Friday, February 04, 2005