HMRC Self-assessment Glitch Affects Taxpayers Ahead of Deadline

Making Tax Digital

Self-assessment taxpayers have been left confused by a series of letters demanding £100 penalties before the January 31st deadline.

Self-assessment taxpayers have been wrongly contacted by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for failing to file their tax returns on time.  

More than one-third of the working population in the UK, roughly 11.5 million, is due to file self-assessment tax forms by the 31st of January.  

While HMRC said that more than four million people still need to file by the deadline, some appear to have been wrongfully contacted and required to pay a penalty of £100.  

According to The Times, a penalty letter was sent to a taxpayer who had filed their return online on the 2nd of January. The letter, sent six days later, was received by the individual’s accountants Blick Rothenberg.  

The letter stated: “Your tax return for the year ended 5 April 2018 was not sent on time. Because of this, a penalty of £100 is payable.”

HMRC said it cancelled the penalty after being contacted by the accountancy firm, however Blick Rothenberg said it has received other penalty notices.  

A spokesperson for the tax office denied any ongoing issues, commenting: “No penalty notices have been sent to customers doing their self-assessment online. Those who have sent their paper returns late have been issued penalties as the paper deadline has passed.”

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This error is not an isolated incident, it appears. Another glitch in HMRC’s tax calculator has led to people being wrongly informed by the service that they owe nothing for the next year.

When taxpayers file self-assessment forms online, they are given a calculation detailing how much they owe for the tax year 2017-2018, which is required to be paid by the 31st January.

Taxpayers are also sent estimates for the tax due for the 2018-19 year, which is known as payment on account. This is to be paid in two instalments, with the first also due on the 31st of January. Many taxpayers are have been told they are not required to pay anything on account in January.

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We are aware of an issue with payment reminders for a small number of customers. Anyone who is affected should contact us and we’ll put it right. Nobody will be charged a penalty or additional interest due to this problem.”

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Self-assessment taxpayers have already been left confused due to IT bugs in the past. In 2010, a software bug prevented people from accessing their online tax returns.

As a result of the glitch, hundreds of taxpayers were faced with delays for rebates if they had overpaid tax during the year.

Two years previous to the software bug the tax service’s computers buckled under the weight of traffic on deadline day, which left more than 20,000 people unable to log in and file.

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