Sarah Saunders

Written by:

Sarah Saunders

Personal tax manager

Could Christmas bring a gift for late tax filers?

Christmas is coming and we at RSM are all thinking about what shiny new tax books we may get from Santa. You may shake your heads, but clearly Christmas means tax to some people. Last year 1,944 people e-filed their tax return on Christmas Day with another 6,214 on Christmas Eve and 6,200 on Boxing Day! Even allowing for the variable TV programming over Christmas this seems impressively high. We salute the bold tax preparers of Christmas Day.

Having filed your return, the next obstacle will be paying your tax. So don’t forget that from 13 January HMRC will not be accepting payments of personal tax by credit card. Do plan ahead if this is your normal method of tax payment. Some people are going to get a nasty shock.

Of course, if you are not as keen as the Christmas filers, and you don’t submit your return, and miss the deadline, all is not necessarily lost. Even if you do not have a conventional reasonable excuse such as illness or some other crisis, there may be another option. We have one minor Christmas present for you to try, when HMRC’s computers automatically issue a £100 fine for a late return.

Our present to you is the news that according to a recent tax tribunal case this fine may not be valid. Apparently, the law states that fine must be determined by an authorised Revenue officer, in other words a human being needs to make a decision to fine somebody.

Fines simply issued automatically by computer, without human intervention, may not be valid, and hence not collectable. The size of the fine (£100), compared to the cost of fighting HMRC about this (and they are bound to resist) may not make this a practical piece of news, but it might be worth a try.

On a more serious note, one has to wonder how many invalid fines, automatically issued by computer, have already been paid over the past years. This should be looked at by HMRC before we end up with another PPI style scandal. ‘Did you pay fines to HMRC? Are you due a refund? Mrs Smith received £500 with our help. Call us now for help claiming your money.’

For more information, please comments below or get in touch with Sarah Saunders.

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