HMRC error sees taxpayers charged over late-payment fines incorrectly

Tax officials were forced to apologise yesterday for two mistakes over late-payment fines, despite HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) last weekend denying that taxpayers were being charged for failing to submit their self-assessment returns online, even though there is still almost two weeks before the deadline.

However, on Monday, the revenue admitted that some people have been wrongly charged and promised to cancel the penalty charges and apologised for the error.

The BBC reported that some 653 people who submitted their tax returns by the start of January were hit by the bogus late-payment penalty charges, and received letters from HMRC telling them they had missed the deadline and therefore had to pay a £100 penalty.

The BBC approached HMRC in relation to the errors, and the broadcaster reported that the revenue “went on the offensive” when discussing the matter, “insisting that no penalty notices had been sent to customers doing their self-assessment online”.

Speaking to the BBC, HMRC said: “Any assertion we have sent early penalty notices to customers doing their returns online is false.”

The revenue was forced to retract this statement on Monday after discovering there was a problem. More specifically, it said that hundreds of people who had made online returns for trusts that they manage, which were processed on 2 January, were wrongly issued a late-payment fine of £100.

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “Due to human error in processing some online trust returns a small number of trustees or agents have been inadvertently issued with late filing penalties.

“We apologise for any issues this may have caused our customers and are writing to them directly to let them know.”

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