HMRC has been berated by UHY Hacker Young for sending out "incorrect" letters to higher rate taxpayers it suspects have not repaid their child benefit payments.
HMRC has sent out 30,000 letters, in a scattergun approach, to parents who it claims failed to account for the child benefit charge when they completed last year’s self-assessment tax return.
UHY Hacker Young says that this has caused "widespread confusion", as HMRC appears to have failed to check whether the payment has already been paid by an individual’s partner before sending out the letters.
Mike Crellin, a tax director at UHY Hacker Young, is quoted by the Telegraph:
"We have had lots of queries about these letters from concerned taxpayers, who thought they had their affairs in order but are now worried that they have made an expensive mistake.A spokesman for HMRC said those who have paid the charge should disregard the letter. He said:
In most cases, they have in fact completed the return and paid their tax perfectly correctly.
HMRC has gone to the lengths of checking the child benefit database, but it hasn’t joined the dots by working out who in the household is supposed to be paying the additional charge and whether or not it has been paid. It is putting the burden of doing that checking on the tax payer, and the scattergun approach is certainly causing a lot of unnecessary worry in the process."
"These letters are simply designed to help taxpayers get their returns right by reminding customers who file under self assessment of the importance of including the high income child benefit charge on their tax return."Scattergun approaches may be all very well, if you are an internet spammer or cold caller selling a PPI reclaim service. However, HMRC should be above such nonsense.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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