At the beginning of July I noted that HMRC had issued a consultation on Extra Statutory Concession AS19, and that:
"HMRC are proposing a significant watering down of ESC A19".Under ESC A19, which has been a feature of the UK's tax system for around 40 years, tax arrears may be waived when HMRC has failed to use information available to it to assess an individual's tax liabilities on time.
The consultation has prompted Keith Gordon (a tax barrister at Atlas Chambers) to create an online petition opposing the changes.
He states on the petition website:
"HMRC’s proposal to “clarify” ESC A19 is misconceived and misleading. The present wording is perfectly clear and HMRC should revert to their former practice of respecting it.He is also quoted by Nichola Ross Martin:
HMRC’s proposal is merely a fig leaf, designed to legitimise their recent practice of denying ESC A19 to the very individuals for whom it was intended to apply."
“ESC A19 is designed to be a get-out-of-jail free card available to the country’s poorest taxpayers who are told of old tax liabilities several years down the line. It applies when HMRC have simply failed to use the information available to them and the taxpayer could reasonably have believed their tax affairs were up to date.The petition is available here, and the HMRC consultation ends 24 September 2012.
In the past couple of years, HMRC have attempted to reinterpret their own guidance simply to avoid applying the concession in the very cases for which it was designed. This has caused unnecessary anxiety for thousands of taxpayers, many of whom will find it impossible to fund the unexpected debt.”
Tax does have to be taxing.
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