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.

Friday, 20 January 2012

HMRC's Confusing Letter

As my loyal readers know, we are rapidly approaching the 31 January deadline for online filing of tax returns for the tax year end 2011.

The new penalty system (automatic £100 fines for late submissions, even if you don't owe any tax) certainly has caused some heated discussion on this site!

Anyhoo, HMRC to give them credit are making an effort to remind people that the deadline is approaching and that there is a new penalty regime in force.

HMRC have sent out letters entitled:

- "Last chance to avoid the new penalties"

It then sets out to tell the recipient that, if they haven't already filed a paper return, they must file online by 31 January to avoid the late submission fine of £100.

Fair enough, but wouldn't it have been cheaper to only send these letters to those who haven't filed their paper returns or are HMRC records not yet up to date on that?

Anyhoo, moving on, the letter then confusingly goes to to say:

"Please do not file a paper return after 31 January"

This implies that submitting a paper return prior to 31 January is OK.

This of course is not the case, as paper returns filed after 31 October will be subject to a late payment fine.

I humbly suggest that the above phrase should be removed from next year's reminder letters, lest it give people the false impression/hope that paper returns up to 31 January are OK.


It seems that one of my loyal readers disbelieves that such a letter exists (see comment below), I assume that this particular reader is not a member of HMRC staff (as he/she would have been able to check for its existence).

Therefore, in order to assuage his/her doubts, here is a copy:

Tax does have to be taxing.

UK EXPATS: Reduce tax on UK Pensions
HMRC QROPS provider. Unlock your UK pension and access a 25% lump sum today.

Quote ID code "ABC" when contacting a QROPS specialist.

Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations

What is TAXWISE?

TAXWISE is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.

To find out more, please use this link Taxwise

Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.

Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"


  1. You could also take it to mean that after January 31st they are no longer accepting paper returns and everything must be done online.

    1. I thought THAT was the case!

      No we are supposed to be psychic too and undertand what HMRC MEANT not what it SAYS.

  2. We got one of those. My husband nearly had heart failure - he had already filed a return. What a waste.

    Called HMRC on something else. Result: 3 wrong numbers were given to me and I wasted an hour.

    Has anyone looked at the SME tax process advice now posted boastfully by HMRC on business link....see

  3. BTW - HMRC is not fit for purpose, they don't even know their OWN departments!

  4. "Fair enough, but wouldn't it have been cheaper to only send these letters to those who haven't filed their paper returns or are HMRC records not yet up to date on that?"

    Now come on, everyone knows that if HMRC tried to do a clever mail shot they would end up having to send another letter saying sorry cocking it up by sending tax payers details to the wrong address.

  5. Are the humble subjects of HMRC allowed to submit a paper return AFTER 31 January and accept the consequences?

  6. Well HMRC have now caved in an anybody who registers for the internet between 22 January and 31 January or has a problem with their password will now get until 15 February to submit their tax return.

  7. Anyone care to scan this letter (minus the persons personal details of course)? I've not filed my return and the last letter I received from HMRC reminding me to do so did not contain anything like that kind of text.

    However I normally file online so may that wasn't targeted at me.

  8. I have doubts whether this letter actually exists, if it's commonplace for HMRC to issue it there would be a verifiable copy of it along with Obama's long form birth certificate and other associated conspiracy theories.

    I suggest people stop trying to score own goals.

    1. The person could always stick it on Wikipedia, which people trust even more than HMRC's own website according to a recent thread.

      Or Ken could add it to his vast collection of images he uses on the site.

    2. Have pasted a copy in the body of the article.

    3. I stand corrected. That is really badly written. Considering the costs involved in making such a mailshot you would think it would have been proofread by a senior civil servant who understands how the department works.

      Or have I just answered my own question?

      Yes I have.

  9. Ken, speaking of anachronisms, your website keeps telling me that I'm posting from somewhere on the West Coast of the United States.

    Oh well it's all sauce for the goose I suppose.

    Can you update me on the traffic situation on the 405 at Sunset?

    1. That's odd, could it be your isp is messing around it might also indicate a virus on your pc?

    2. Ken, you seem to have a history of blaming others for your own incompetence.

      "I bought into your service via Cool New Mobile, who have gone into administration leaving thousands of people (myself included) out of pocket wrt the cash back deals. It has been clear for months that CNM were nothing more than a scam operation, "

      If you buy a phone contract online with the promise of "cashback" deals from a site called 'cool new mobile' you deserve everything you get frankly. I detest the greasy haired suits at the phone shop but at least they give me a piece of paper telling me what I've signed up to.

  10. It could be, except it would have to also cover several different ISP networks/ways to access the content on your site.

  11. The letter states any paper return recieved after the 31st will be subject to further penalties. As this would trigger the 2nd penalty stage as no return after 3 months. So the letter is correct in terms of that, so it would be right it saying dont submit a paper form after 31 january

    1. I must admit. I have been an AO who has been quite involved in different self assessment projects whilst also answering customer letters about self assessment in the past and even I don't understand the new penalties regime fully.