Revenue opens today to accept last-minute tax forms

The Inland Revenue is today taking the unprecedented step of opening on a Saturday to allow more than a million taxpayers to submit self-assessment forms at the last minute and avoid a pounds 100 fine. As Andrew Verity reports, many taxpayers will have to appeal against fines they should not owe.

A total of 350 offices will open today until 4pm in order to accept forms delivered by hand. Some offices will stay open even later in areas where most returns are late.

The Inland Revenue yesterday said it would still accept the forms if they were "on the mat" when staff entered offices on Monday morning, giving many a crucial breathing space to put forms physically through the Revenue's letter box.

Taxpayers who personally deliver forms to Revenue offices on Sunday will still be treated as if they have arrived on Saturday. However, taxpayers who sent their forms by post yesterday are not guaranteed that they will be treated as hitting the deadline.

A Revenue spokesman said: "What we have said all the time is - don't panic. But it is getting a bit late to put it in the post. If it arrives in the post on Monday it is technically too late. But, like every organisation, people need to make allowances for the post."

More than 1.3 million taxpayers are estimated still to be hanging on to forms, incurring an automatic penalty of pounds 100 each and netting the Revenue up to pounds 130m in fines.

Tax agents say hundreds of thousands of taxpayers will receive the pounds 100 automatic penalty even though they do not owe it. They will be forced to pay if they have not sent in tax returns and have just 30 days to appeal.

In a letter to The Independent published today, chartered accountant Gerry Jackson claims the pounds 100 fines will break the Taxes and Management Act 1970 if the taxpayer is owed money by the Revenue or if the fines which exceed what the taxpayer owes.

Many self-employed taxpayers will be owed rebates if they paid too much in January and June last year. Others have used tax-free vehicles such as personal pensions to wipe out tax liabilities. If agents are late with these returns, no fine should be levied, Mr Jackson said.

"Certainly it seems few people are aware of this get-out which will probably apply to a large number of the 2 million or so taxpayers who have been lax in getting in their returns."

Taxpayers must also pay the balance of tax for 1996/97 and any payment on account for 1997/98, by today at the latest. Outstanding tax received after February 28 will receive a 5 per cent surcharge.

Ernst & Young, which has more than 30,000 self-assessed clients, has told policyholders it believes the Revenue will create an amnesty for taxpayers who have missed the 31 January deadline.

Accountants said the Revenue may be pressured to back down on the deadline for some taxpayers because of a software blunder which affected efforts to process forms on time.

Large firms of accountants found that essential elements of the software, supplied by the Inland Revenue, failed to work with their systems, setting back efforts to process forms electronically.

Ernst & Young, the fourth largest accountant in the UK with 6,570 staff, wrote to its clients last year to tell them of the glitch, which had also affected many other accountancy firms. It said the Revenue might be forced to give an amnesty to people who missed the deadline because of the glitch.

Meanwhile accountants have reported 50 per cent leaps in turnover. Gerry Hart, head of Tax Team, the tax agent network, said: "The publicity has brought people out of the woodwork - in some cases people who have been self-employed but haven't been in touch with the Revenue. In those cases there's not much you can do for them.

But he said self-assessment had sharply accelerated the flow of new clients to accountancy firms. "One of our offices got 25 clients in 3 days the other week. It's done wonders for our business."

Letters, page 18

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
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

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam