HMRC 'wrongly issued fines to self-assessors, repeatedly'

A throwaway line in HMRC’s annual accounts has been seized on by a Sunday newspaper as evidence that 963,000 self-assessors were wrongly issued fines for three years in a row.

In fact, rather than realise that the workers were unnecessarily registered for SA and just remove them after year one, the Revenue fined them all for “three consecutive years”.

“There was a bulk remission for Self Assessment (SA) penalties of £23 million relating to 25,431 cases”, state HMRC’s accounts.

“[In these cases] customers had not filed returns for at least three consecutive years…. these customers were therefore removed from the SA regime and are no longer liable”.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, MPs will now investigate why HMRC had tried to penalise the taxpayers, seemingly by issuing £100 late-filing penalties -- three times -- to taxpayers who did not need to file SA returns.

The broadsheet also showed that the Revenue’s reported emphasis on the fact that no money was lost due to the penalties being cancelled not sitting well with one accountant, who pointed out the penalties should not have been issued in the first place.

Attempting some figures of its own, the Telegraph estimated that the number of people affected by the gaffe represents one in 11 of the UK’s 11 million self-assessors -- mainly self-employed people and others whose tax affairs are complicated.

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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