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Any excuse will do to avoid £100 Self Assessment Penalty

the dog ate my homework

In June the BBC announced..

People who have filed late tax returns have been let off paying a £100 fine for missing the deadline, HM Revenue and Customs has confirmed.

But the penalty has only been waived for individuals who provide a “reasonable” excuse for being late.

According to the BBC HMRC will not be checking the excuses as in previous years, they will simply accept them without questioning them.

So what are reasonable excuses?

Here are some excuses that HMRC have accepted

  1. a failure in the HMRC computer system
  2. your computer breaks down just before or during the preparation of your online return
  3. a serious illness, disability or serious mental health condition has made you incapable of filing your tax return
  4. you registered for HMRC Online Services but didn’t get your Activation Code in time
  5. it was lost in the post HMD Response International v’s HMRC 2011 The accountant produced a contemporaneous note in his office diary for 16 May showing that he had filed the return.
  6. “Impecuniosity”Maxine Barron v’s HMRC
  7. Cashflow difficulties caused by a change in CIS Status Kincaid v’s HMRC 2011

steve@bicknells.net

Taxman reveals top 10 terrible tax excuses

the dog ate my homework

Last years excuses used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late filing and payment. Here’s the full list:

  • My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.
  • I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  • I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
  • Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
  • I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  • My girlfriend’s pregnant.
  • I was in Australia.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/taxman-reveals-top-10-terrible-tax-excuses

The previous year, the following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers:

  1. My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder)
  2. I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer)
  3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman)
  4. My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader)
  5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser)
  6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer)
  7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver)
  8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man)
  9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm)
  10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant)

All of these people and businesses received a £100 penalty from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for filing late. They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/revenue-reveals-top-10-oddest-excuses-for-late-tax-returns

Don’t be late get your return done!

steve@bicknells.net

Will your tax return stand up to HMRC Profit Benchmarking?

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HMRC have been doing lots of research on SME businesses, the most interesting areas of research are:

Understanding Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business life eventsSME Customer Journey Mapping

Research was carried out to understand:

  • the key life events and activities that SMEs experience
  • how these relate to tax
  • what opportunities there are for the improvement of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) services by more closely aligning them to business lifecycles

The Transparent Benchmarking Team Statement (November 2014)

HMRC is conducting a number of pilots, focussed on SME customers, designed to explore the effectiveness of publishing benchmarks on aiding greater voluntary compliance.

Following the first pilot (benchmark net profit ratios for Painters and Decorators, and Driving Instructors) in March 2014, HMRC will run two more in the autumn. One of these will focus on self-employed taxi drivers and pharmacists, where HMRC will be writing to around 2,500 agents that have a number of clients in the target sectors. The idea is to test whether publishing benchmarks through an agent is more effective than writing to a customer directly. Letters will also be sent to a sample of represented and unrepresented customers within the selected sectors to form control groups for evaluation purposes. All represented individuals and businesses written to directly will be informed that their agent has not received a copy of the letter.

The benchmark for both sectors is the net profit ratio. Because this is a controlled pilot exercise, not all agents or businesses within the relevant sectors will be receiving a letter. (source CIOT)

The Benchmarks we know so far are:

  • Painters & Decorators range from 59% to 79%
  • Driving Instructors 31% to 67%

So the range of profits are big!

We await the ranges for Taxi Drivers and Pharmacists.

If your profit doesn’t fit then you need to know why.

Do not ignore the letter because HMRC are likely to follow it up and assume you are deliberately trying to avoid tax!

You may have some valid reasons for not fitting the benchmark and you must explain those reasons to HMRC.

A deliberate error will results in a higher penalty (up 100% of the tax) but can also open the door to HMRC going back over up to 20 years of your accounts!

The letters refer to common mistakes in:

  • Travel Expenses
  • Telephone Costs
  • Utility and insurance charges
  • Professional Fees
  • Capital Expenditure

You may find these blogs helpful

Motor Expenses

Travel Expenses

Home Office Expenses

10 Ways to Save Tax

HMRC also have some useful toolkits/checklists…..

Business Profits Toolkit

Private and Personal Expenditure Toolkit

steve@bicknells.net

What if you can’t complete your Self Assessment Tax Return?

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11.2 million people will be required to complete a Self Assessment Return for 2013/14 and the deadline is the 31st January 2015.

The most common things you will need to know are:

  • Employment Income – P60 and P11D
  • Pension Contributions – statement from provider
  • Donations to Charity
  • Bank and Building Society Interest
  • Dividends
  • Buy to Let Investments, Holiday Lets and Second Homes
  • Other Income
  • Employment Expenses not paid by your employer including mileage to approved rates and clothing
  • Professional Memberships related to your job and on HMRC List 3
  • Home Office Expenses

What can you do if despite your best efforts you can’t find or get hold of the information you need?

Returns which include provisional or estimated figures should be accepted provided they can be regarded as satisfying the filing requirement.

  • A provisional figure is one which the taxpayer / agent has supplied pending the submission of the final / accurate figure
  • An estimated figure is one which the taxpayer / agent wishes to be accepted as the final figure because it is not possible to provide an accurate figure for example where the records have been lost. The taxpayer is not required to tick box 20 of the Finishing your Tax Return section of the return page TR 6 (or equivalent in a return for an earlier year) where estimated figures have been used

If you make a mistake on your tax return, you’ve normally got 12 months from 31 January after the end of the tax year to correct or amend it. For example, if you send your 2013-14 online tax return by 31 January 2015, you have until 31 January 2016 to amendment it.

If you sent your tax return online by 31 January, it’s easy to amend it online too. You just need to log into your Self Assessment online account, go to the ‘at a glance’ page and choose the option to amend your tax return.

steve@bicknells.net

How did you get on with Self Assessment?

sa-monthly-online-figures-2011-12

According to the Government

This year, a record-breaking 8.48 million returns were filed online, representing 84.5% of all returns received. This meant that, of the 10.74 million tax returns due for the tax year 2012 to 2013, 93.4% met the SA deadlines for paper and online filing.

On 31 January we saw a final rush to file, with 569,847 online returns coming in on time – the highest percentage ever recorded.  It shows that many of you and SA taxpayers now prefer to use our digital service, over paper.

How did you find self assessment, was it easy or nightmare?

steve@bicknells.net

Self Assessment Payment – Shipley or Cumbernauld

Rubber stamp design stating Tax Return Due Now

For all those struggling to work our whether to make a bank transfer to HMRC Shipley or Cumbernauld

Your payslip tells you which HMRC account to use. If you’re not sure, use HMRC Cumbernauld. You must use your UTR as the payment reference.

Sort code Account number Account name
083210 12001039 HMRC Cumbernauld
083210 12001020 HMRC Shipley

If you make a Faster Payment this will clear the same day if the amount is within your bank’s limits.

https://www.gov.uk/pay-self-assessment-tax-bill

steve@bicknells.net

HMRC reveals ‘Top 10 oddest excuses’ for late tax returns

I found this on the Gov.uk website and thought is was well worth re-blogging

The following bizarre, exotic and flimsy excuses have all been used by tardy taxpayers:

  1. My pet goldfish died (self-employed builder)
  2. I had a run-in with a cow (Midlands farmer)
  3. After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else (London woman)
  4. My wife won’t give me my mail (self-employed trader)
  5. My husband told me the deadline was 31 March, and I believed him (Leicester hairdresser)
  6. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play (Coventry writer)
  7. My bad back means I can’t go upstairs. That’s where my tax return is (a working taxi driver)
  8. I’ve been cruising round the world in my yacht, and only picking up post when I’m on dry land (South East man)
  9. Our business doesn’t really do anything (Kent financial services firm)
  10. I’ve been too busy submitting my clients’ tax returns (London accountant)

All of these people and businesses received a £100 penalty from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for filing late. They appealed against the decision using these excuses, but were unsuccessful.

HMRC’s Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said:

There will always be unforeseen events that mean a taxpayer could not file their tax return on time. However, your pet goldfish passing away isn’t one of them.

If you haven’t yet sent your 2012 to 2013 tax return to HMRC, you need to do it online and pay the tax you owe by the end of January. With all the help and advice available, there’s no excuse not to.

To send an online tax return, you must be registered for HMRC Online Services. This involves HMRC sending you an Activation Code in the post, so allow a few days for this to arrive. To register for HMRC Online Services go to the HMRC website and follow the on-screen instructions.

 

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