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.

Monday, 19 December 2011

HMRC Quick Off The Mark

It is nice to see that HMRC don't always delay communicating with their "customers" (ahem).

This year they have sent some taxpayers a special Christmas message.

The Independent reports that HMRC have been very quick off the mark to send out penalty notices to taxpayers, telling them that they have been fined £100 for not submitting an online tax return for 2011.

Unfortunately, there is one small fly in HMRC's oinkment, the deadline for the online tax returns is in fact January 31 2012.


Angela Beech, a senior tax partner at Blick Rothenberg, is quoted:

"The Revenue has got it wrong again and is causing unnecessary distress during the festive season. We have seen several demands and while the deadline for paper returns is passed, people have until 31 January to file online."

She went on to highlight the case of one of her clients who had been told that he did not need to complete a return, yet has already been fined £100 for not sending any return.

"Not only that, but for every day the return is late he will be fined £10. People are being asked to pay their fine within 30 days and are being told that if they haven't paid by then, penalties of £10 per day can be charged for the next 90 days, making a whopping £1,000 fine for a tax return you didn't have to file."

HMRC don't seem to have issued a comment yet on this, but it seems to be down to an IT error.

As with all IT systems, they are only as good as their design and the information put into them.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. I expect this will be a case of HMRC putting the wrong year on the letter due to incorrect information being given to them by the tax payer using the wrong help line number.

  2. Jesus. What a shambles

  3. Part of the reason why people have been told to file returns when they don't need to (or that they don't need to when they do) is because for the last three or four years Self Assessment returns filed on-line have never been checked afterwards to see if the taxpayer (I refuse to use the 'c' word) will need to complete one the next year; for example, if their self-employment ceases, or if their income drops below the level where their age-related allowances are reduced.

    Such cases are put on a computer-generated worklist for review, but - as I said - nothing has been done with these worklists for at least three years to the best of my knowledge. "Lack of resources" is the usual excuse.

    The result is that people get sent tax returns for the next year when they don't need to complete one. When they query this with the contact centres, the reply they get depends on who they speak to.

    To add to the problem, if someone has been sent a return for a particular year, the new all-singing, all-crashing PAYE computer system will not allow that year to be reconciled without a return. So we have the sight of experienced officers being told by the higher-ups to insist on the return being filed.

    Anyone in the situation described in the original post should make a formal complaint, because HMRC has failed to make timely use of the information the taxpayer has provided. At least, it'd be worth a try. Bear in mind, though, that complaints-handling officers are not to blame for this - they're only firefighting the results of managerial neglect over a long period of time.

  4. How many of these sent a late paper return ? Then want do it online when they have realised the new penalty rules have been applied . They only know that they have to do it from April surely 6 months is long enough to get there house in order instead of complaining its some one else's fault.

  5. @19 December 2011 17:35

    Except in the cases you mentioned in your first sentence, Ken does have a point.

    If the accountant checks her clients on line account, from information on there she'll be able to guess why the penalty has been charged. Suggest she contacts HMRC and makes a complaint because it's not her or her clients fault.

    The other is due to a bit of 'decision making' by whoever it is who gets paid a considerable amount more than we do to make these decisions and it's not the fault of those affected either.

    Hopefully the fact this is in the paper will mean that the penalties for those affected can be removed by a magic want but don't hold your breath.

  6. These penalties would only be valid if a paper return has been filed after end of October