Commiserations to Florence Coke, owner of Mama Flo’s in Gorton, who was on the receiving end of an erroneous (humongously erroneous) VAT bill in March this year to the tune of £979M.
She is quoted by the Manchester Evening News:
“It frightened the hell out of me. This is my first time in business and I am naïve, I didn’t know where to turn. It really shook me up.”The letter from HMRC contained the standard warning:
“If you do not pay or contact us, we can visit your premises in order to arrange for your assets to be sold by public auction.”Ms Coke immediately called HMRC, which said that it would investigate the matter.
When she had returned from Jamaica after the death of her mother there was some good news, a letter from HMRC apologising for the mistake which also noted that she in fact owed £17K.
Bob Gaiger, HMRC spokesman, said:
“We are very sorry to hear of the problems our customer has had.Fair enough, mistakes happen and HMRC put this right without an unseemly fuss or delay.
We cannot comment on individual cases but when mistakes do happen our aim is to always put them right as soon as we can and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
However, I wonder how it is that such a large mistake occurred without anyone thinking that it might be an error; given that Mrs Coke runs a relatively modest local business, as opposed to a multi national?
Tax does have to be taxing.
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