Latest HMRC blunder hits 12,000


tax returnPA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

HMRC should be working hard to rebuilt trust in the taxman after numerous shameful disasters have left honest tax-payers confused and struggling with massive unexpected bills.

However, its actions this week reveal that learning from mistakes isn't its strong suit, embroiling another 12,000 people in a new tax headache.

The incident

They say that tax doesn't need to be taxing, but given the spectacular mess the taxman has made of his own systems, you'd have to wonder whether it's just too tricky for civil servants to get their heads around.

This time the taxpayers caught up in the errors are people who have previously self-assessed, but were part of a project to remove people from the self-assessment system. HMRC asked people to contact them if they previously went through the self-assessment rigmarole, but were now working full time for just one company and paying tax through PAYE.

As a result of this project, 130,000 received letters saying they had been taken out of the system and didn't need to complete a tax return last time around.

Unfortunately a systems glitch means that 12,000 of them have now had letters saying that because they failed to submit a tax return, they needed to pay their £100 fine, and that from 1 May they would be charged an additional £10 a day until their fine reached £900.

For those who thought they were rid of the complications and annoyances of the self-assessment system, this is a bitter blow, which has raised a great deal of concern.

What does it mean?

HMRC has apologised, and emphasised that these fines will not be due. An HMRC spokesman said:"We are very sorry and can reassure these customers that we know who they are and that this letter is incorrect - they do not owe a penalty. We are writing to all of them to apologise and to explain this error."

It seems that not even by opting out of self-assessment can you escape HMRC's reach in their all-powerful drive to bring chaos and confusion to people's tax affairs.

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