No tax reminder for thousands as HMRC runs out of paper
With self-assessment payment deadline of 31 July fast approaching, tax expert Andrew Shaw explains the options for taxpayers worried about missing the deadline
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has admitted this week that it failed to issue reminder letters to thousands of taxpayers who complete a self-assessment form – because it ran out of paper.
The mistake, which comes at a time when the country is seeking to collect as much tax as it possibly can, is believed to have affected hundreds of thousands of taxpayers due to pay the second instalment of their 2010/11 tax – specifically those with a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number in the range 70-99.
The error reportedly occurred due to a four-fold increase in the number of payments on account, which was evidently not communicated to the person responsible for ordering the paper. Whilst HMRC is keen to point out that taxpayers can check the amounts they owe online and make payments electronically, Andrew Shaw, partner at top 20 accountancy firm Kingston Smith, argues that this misses the point.
“Many elderly taxpayers, among others, do not have internet access to find out how much they owe, and a greater number cannot or will not use electronic banking,” Shaw explains. “In any case, normal circumstances dictate that if someone owes you money, the least you can do is ask them for payment.”
The good news for those affected is that HMRC has conceded they will have 30 days from receipt of the statement to pay, during which time no interest will follow. “However,” Shaw warns, “anyone relying on this concession should take utmost care to ensure they are able to prove the date of receipt of the statement.”
He concludes, “Somewhat ironically, it could be argued that this unfairly prejudices taxpayers who haven’t benefited from this latest HMRC blunder.”