HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
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.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Repugnant

Bottom InspectorsThe nature and definition of a "reasonable excuse" wrt tax issues has been highlighted by Geraint Jones QC (who oversaw 4 hearings into late payment penalties imposed by HMRC).

Accountancy Age reports that he found in favour of 3 cases:

- Anthony Leachman,
- Ballysillan Community Forum and
- NA Dudley Electrical Contractors.

He relied on a European Court of Human Rights ruling that stated the penalties imposed by HMRC were "in the nature of a criminal penalty".

As such, he said HMRC must "satisfy me to the criminal standard" – beyond reasonable doubt – that it was an unreasonable mistake on the taxpayer's behalf that filing did not take place.

Jones is quoted:

"HMRC argues that a 'reasonable excuse' must be some exceptional circumstance which prevented timeous filing.

That, as a matter of law, is wrong.

If Parliament had intended to say that the penalty would not be due only in exceptional circumstances, it would have said so in those terms
."

However, he didn't stop there in admonishing HMRC. He also noted that HMRC, by imposing a second penalty while deliberately failing to send reminder about the first penalty, was trying to take advantage of its own default.

"In my judgment, it is not open to HMRC to take advantage of its own default in sending a timeous default notice to a taxpayer.

That would offend the common law principle of fairness and most right-thinking members of the public would find it repugnant, especially on the part of a public body
."

As noted before on this site, the trust between HMRC and the taxpayer has broken down. HMRC by acting in this "repugnant" fashion, by trying to profit from its own failings in communications, has further undermined its reputation with the taxpayers.

A public body, and the state, can only function in a democracy if the voters/taxpayers have a degree of trust in that body. When that trust breaks down the state, public body or democracy will be swept away.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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6 comments:

  1. Humm...

    I like quote "In my judgment, it is not open to HMRC to take advantage of its own default in sending a timeous default notice to a taxpayer.

    That would offend the common law principle of fairness and most right-thinking members of the public would find it repugnant, especially on the part of a public body."

    I wonder if that same argument could be offered with regard to tax credit overpayments where HMRC refused to act even when alerted to the overpayment and then years later come back and say it's the claimants fault?

    ReplyDelete
  2. WOW
    A just and honourable ruling at last.
    I won't quite burst into song (Ding Dong the Wicked Witch...!)
    However I believe this is a watershed ruling that indicates knowledge and common sense in its application.
    PCS conference take note.
    We have a Judicial Review and an appeal due to go before the ECHR shortly, if they find as well....!
    No wonder the rodents are heading for the gangway with a renewed sense of urgency.

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  3. Dark Lords take note...
    Orcs of the lowest levels, wraith riders and troglodytes begone!
    Gandalf and the Riders of Rohan are upon ye with the shining sword of truth...
    Well, something like that anyway.
    It looks as though the system has caught out HMRC at last.
    C'mon PCS, embattled staff, "customers" its Watchdog in 10 minutes lets see if that adds impetus.
    to be continued...

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  4. Continued.....
    Just saw the watchdog article:-
    Started well, finished flat.
    FINIS

    ReplyDelete
  5. Paul Lewis(?) means well, but somehow doesn't cut the mustard, which is a pity because he has done his research, is coherent and I think a genuinely good guy.
    He may yet however, prove to be an absolute genius if he ties enough lose ends together as opposed to leaving them loose.
    Get on with it Mr Lewis.

    ReplyDelete