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HMRC overstepping the mark?

I have a great deal of respect for many people working for the Revenue. Many are technically excellent and hardworking but I feel that, as time progresses, government and particularly government officials forget that their position is to serve the public.

The job title Civil Servant says to me that a person is in a position of trust and they are there to help the people paying their wages, the taxpayers of United Kingdom plc. People like us.

The article that has made me stand up on my soapbox and rant appeared in the Daily Telegraph.  To read the full article see here

The article tells the story of an unfortunate unrepresented businessman completing his first tax return. This is not an easy form to complete and the poor individual thought he was due a tax refund of £3,000 whereas the actual amount due was £1,000.

The revenue charged a penalty of £1,400 for this mistake eliminating the refund. I think a 70% penalty chargeable to a taxpayer cannot be fair in these circumstances.

Once the Return has been corrected he was still due a tax refund of £1,000 but after the penalty he ends up owing the Revenue £400!

Tax is difficult to understand for an expert and it is sad that the system does not make any allowances for the uninformed.

I do wonder if the Revenue would have looked to charge such a high penalty if the taxpayer was represented by a competent accountant or tax adviser.

The Revenue says it treats all taxpayers fairly and I sincerely hope that the Daily Telegraph has its facts wrong because I do not understand the logic.

The Revenue should always have the right to check any tax return. They should ask as many questions as they like but what incentive is there to start a small business when government officers act in this way? Or rather, when the system says they should act in this way.

We all make mistakes. Why can’t the system be changed to give the taxpayer the benefit of the doubt? I find it sad that no one in the Revenue had a reality check.

Should it just be the view that ‘I am sorry but rules are rules’ and if those rules say a penalty of 70% is due, then a 70% penalty it is!

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