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.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

You're To Blame

My thanks to a loyal reader who pointed me to an article in This Is Money about a woman whose case recently went to a tax tribunal.

On January 10, 2011, HMRC sent her a letter asking her to complete a self assessment form.

She rang HMRC to ask for a form and was sent a paper return, which she completed and sent back.

Now as loyal readers know October is the filing date for paper returns, but not everyone is a loyal reader or tax expert. Needless to say, HMRC fined her £100 for late submission.

When the woman had rung HMRC’s helpline on January 17, no one pointed out to her that a paper submission would elicit a £100 fine.

The woman complained, and HMRC rejected her complaint. However, when it went to the tax tribunal, Judge Geraint Jones QC intervened and overturned the fine.
He rejected HMRC’s argument that responsibility for filing on time lay squarely on the shoulders of the taxpayer, saying:
"That proposition might be acceptable in circumstances where, by its conduct, HMRC has not misled the taxpayer or lulled her in to believing that she has fulfilled the obligations."
Quite so!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Surely if you choose to be self employed you should know what your obligations are that includes filling in a tax return and finding out the dates they need to be submitted.

    In this case she should have been advised by the adviser that she needed to file online but she should also have been well prepared, the tax year finished in April she had plenty of time to fill one in it isn't HMRC's responsibility to tell her it is her obligation to find out. Too many people leave it until the end of January then panic because they are not registered and need to wait 7 days for the password. If you are self employed and reading this do your tax return now don't leave it until January then blame HMRC when you get fined.

  2. What makes you think the taxpayer was self employed? If you work for HMRC, you should hang your head in shame if you believe that SA is the sole preserve of the self employed.

  3. I see that the glorious 123rd have wheeled out one of their apologists (11:26). If they are not an HMRC drone they should not comment as they clearly dont have clue about how the shower of shit HMRC call their 'Helpline' carry on.
    It is standard procedure for the brigade to put everyone who's tax affairs they fuck up into self assessment, that way they put the onus on getting your tax right on the taxpayer. And for the record I dont work for the brigade, have never been self employed, just have more than one income source (all taxed via PAYE), and HMRC find it far too 'taxing' to get my coding notice done correctly so simply put me in self assessment. What a bunch of arse wipes!

  4. If they didn't send it until January, then surely she had three months from date of issue anyway?

    They didn't issue her with a form until January anonymous. That did not give her ANY time if the 'deadline' had already passed. Unless I have totally misread the dates here, she wouldn't have been late providing it was submitted by 11 April.

    Anyway, people are sometimes forced to become self-employed to earn a living, that does not necessarily mean they are happy with computers or reading anything about the tax rules. You sound rather unforgiving.

    Here, if we have a client who leaves everything until the last moment, we charge a surcharge for dealing with their information in December or January if they have effectively had from around May/June when they should have been able to gather all their information. Also not everyone's accounting date is 5 April.

  5. Facts is facts.

    The Judge should be recognised for his application of common sense and good judgement.

    HMRC deserve more than criticism:-

    i) HMRC sent a manual tax return for completion by the taxpayer (customer) no doubt with a pre-paid return envelope after the time limit had expired
    ii) They failed in their duty of care by not notifying the taxpayer that completing the return late (manually) was in fact an offence for which a fiscal penalty (in this particular case) applied
    iii) Despite the ability to waive the penalty (in these circumstances) they chose not to
    iv) The whole issue has cost a fortune in hard-earned taxpayer funds (FOI cost:benefit ratio)
    v) HMRC complicit by virtue of its actions @ 1) & 11)
    vi) Margaret Hodge and thw PAC should look again at this bunch who now appear to be making up the application of the law as they go along

  6. I don't think we have the full facts here. It looks like she phoned up for a duplicate. The original Return had the filing dates and details of the penalties on the front page. The duplicate would have done as well:
    We must receive your tax return by these dates:
    • if you are using a paper return – by 31 October 2010,
    (or 3 months after the date of this notice if that’s later), or
    • if you are filing a return online – by 31 January 2011,
    (or 3 months after the date of this notice if that’s later).
    You will be charged a £100 penalty if your tax return is
    received after the appropriate deadline. If you pay late you will
    be charged interest and possibly a surcharge.

    This is taken straight from the front of the return. Why do people ignore it? She would have had a reminder with a warning as well. How much warning is it reasonable to expect the Revenue to give? In letting her off the penalty, is that being fair to others who took the trouble to send their return in on time?

    1. It is safe to assume that the 123rd have decided to "contribute" towards a balanced argument once more.
      But HMRC you fall at the first hurdle;
      It would appear that at no point did the taxpayer receive the original return, readers will know of the track record of woes that lie between sending and receiving same!
      Taxpayer requested a duplicate return in order one assumes to complete.
      HMRC issue a return on or about 17th January and according to 22:01 then has 3 months to get it back to HMRC.
      As Rumpole might have said "I rest my case your honour"