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Inland Revenue can't handle partnerships

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A note of caution to professional partnerships in their dealings with the Inland Revenue. Yes, the IR is getting to grips with the issue of selfassessment calculations for 1996/97.

But in many cases it is getting them wrong because the self-assessment teams in the tax offices are trying to settle each partner's individual liability without checking on their colleagues' progress in dealing with partnership assessments.

Worse, the computer system used has not been correctly prepared to handle the treatment of 'old' partnerships, particularly those whose partners pay substantial amounts of annuities and/or make a substantial charitable payment out of their profits.

As a practice, we have written to the tax offices dealing with our partnership clients asking them to delay the attempts to settle partners' individual liabilities until the partnership assessment is agreed. Unless you can persuade your tax office to do the same, you need to take extra care when checking the calculations - and remember you have a limited amount of time in which to appeal if they are wrong.

If you have accountants looking after your tax affairs, you should send a copy of any computation received to them. The IR's system of issuing copies direct to agents seems to be cracking under the strain, and a delay of two weeks is not uncommon.

CLIFF COOPER Cooper Lancaster Brewers, chartered accountant

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