HMRC may cancel your fine for tax mistakes if you tried to call them

Millions of taxpayers made errors on their taxes because of HMRC's 'abysmal' customer service

Zachary Davies Boren
Friday 06 November 2015 11:03
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If you tried calling HMRC then your fine may be cancelled
If you tried calling HMRC then your fine may be cancelled

If you made a mistake on your tax return the HMRC may cancel your fine — as long as you tried and failed to get in contact with them.

Following recent revelations that millions of taxpayers filed late or incorrectly because the tax man didn’t answer their calls, it has emerged that many people have had penalties pardoned or reduced.

Ministers condemned HMRC for its “abysmal” customer service after an official report said half of all calls received in the first half of the year were not picked up — that’s 12 million unanswered calls.

According to The Telegraph, the tax collection department has already written off “late penalties” for thousands of people who provided a “reasonable” excuse for why they missed the deadline.

In the previous tax year HMRC found more than 90,000 people made "carelessness or otherwise not deliberate" mistakes on their tax returns, while a 15,000 made errors deemed "deliberate".

This policy is most likely to impact taxpayers who have filed late or made minor errors, but fines may still issued in some cases — starting at £100, and escalating to £10 a day after three months.

Will you turn down a free tax-break?

Fines for ‘carelessness’ can equal penalties of up to 30 per cent of the tax owed.

An HMRC spokesman said: "We work very much on a case -by-case basis but if you phoned us and couldn't get through we would take that into account. If someone says they tried to call us we will take their word for it. We do not want to penalise anyone."

"We know our customer service hasn't been as good as it should be so we have moved a further 3,000 people into them and things are getting better. All this means no one should get a penalty for missing the 31 January deadline, or for putting the wrong figures in their returns because of call waiting times. A penalty for a return that was in on time would only apply for failing to take sufficient care to get it right."

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