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Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.
Friday, 1 February 2008
The Great Crash - Epilogue
Yesterday's all too predictable and humiliating crash of the HMRC online tax filing system, aside from seriously pissing people off, and causing an inordinate amount of extra work and stress as people tried repeatedly to file their returns online, has left a "little bit of chaos" in its wake.
The media have happily swallowed HMRC's oringinal line that an extra day's grace has been granted to those who couldn't file yesterday, and that they have until midnight tonight to file without incurring a late filing penalty.
All well and good, except for one minor legal point spotted by Keith Gordon, a barrister.
The original HMRC statement, on the working part of their site, said this:
"HMRC takes any disruption of service very seriously and to reflect this no-one who files electronically or by paper by midnight Friday 1 February 2008 will face a penalty."
Mr Gordon points out that this is no concession at all, as it is the normal position.
He is quoted by Accountingweb as follows:
"Steeden v Carver suggests that anyone filing up to 24 hours late will escape the penalty in any event. The only risk in filing late is that HMRC have an extra 3 months to open an enquiry."
"Do HMRC really mean to say that the deadline is now deemed to be 1 February?
In which case, that means that one can file electronically up until midnight on Saturday (to avoid a penalty) and (as before) by paper until the tax offices open on Monday morning?
Will HMRC reflect this in ensuring that such returns are still subject to an enquiry window which closes on 31 January next?"
This may seem a petty point to non lawyers and non tax experts, but it is "finer points" of the law such as this that can cause major problems in the future for people and companies.
Rather interestingly HMRC have now changed their "assurance/apology notice" to read:
"HMRC takes any disruption of service very seriously and to reflect this everyone who files electronically or by paper by midnight Friday 1 February will be treated as having filed on time."
Hmmm...it would be nice if HMRC could get things right first time.
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