Compensation for the taxman's 'victims'

Are you suffering unfairly at the hands of the Inland Revenue? Just call on the adjudicator. By Nic Cicutti

TAXPAYERS who receive poor treatment at the hands of the Inland Revenue may now be offered compensation for any distress they have suffered.

While the exact details have not yet been fixed, the scale of any distress payments is likely to be small and they are only likely to be made in "exceptional" cases, the Revenue said last week.

The payments are part of the Revenue's continuing charm offensive, designed to improve its levels of service and the public's image of its work, and came to light as the independent Revenue watchdog - called the Adjudicator's Office - published its second annual report. This showed an increase in enquiries to the watchdog of about 60 per cent to 2,600 in the year to April.

The adjudicator, Elizabeth Filkin, can deal with complaints about the handling of tax affairs, such as delays, errors and discourtesy. Her services are free but she does not consider issues of tax law or liability. Before complaining, people are expected to give the relevant department a chance to sort out the matter first.

Many of the enquiries last year were straightforward, but of the 381 cases where an investigation was completed, the adjudicator found in favour of the complainant at least half the time.

Complaints dealt with by her office included:

q That an investigation into someone's tax affairs lasted five years and involved four different tax inspectors. The complainant was awarded pounds 500 towards his professional fees incurred in dealing with the Revenue's poor handling of the case.

q A pensioner complained that the Revenue had delayed changing his tax code when he retired, forcing him to pay too much tax for six months. The pensioner was awarded pounds 15 by the adjudicator for the interest lost on the savings he was forced to withdraw to tide him over.

q A building contractor was awarded pounds 7,000 compensation after incurring financial losses as a result of financial advice given to him by the Inland Revenue. He had been told that if he sold a property within 12 months of purchase he would not have to pay capital gains tax on the sale.

The latter compensation payment was the biggest last year. There were 80 compensation payments totalling pounds 36,000.

Ms Filkin said that much of the work carried out by tax inspectors was of a very high standard. But she added: "We have found that some investigations have involved a disgraceful waste of public money ... the Revenue's own procedures are not followed, sometimes with distressing results.

"At times it seems as if they have made up their minds before they start, or have a blanket view of certain trades - primarily those where people are paid in cash - and proceed on that basis regardless of the facts of the case."

In some instances, the Revenue's refusal to acknowledge its mistake and offer compensation for genuine financial loss - which it is bound to do - resulted in costs many times greater than the amount in dispute, she added.

The Adjudicator's Office also deals with complaints about Customs and Excise and the Contributions Agency.

q The Adjudicator's Office, Haymarket House, London, SW1Y 4SP. Tel. 0171 930.2292.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices