Self Assessment process is overtaxing, says group - Money - News - Moneyfacts


Self Assessment process is overtaxing, says group

Self Assessment process is overtaxing, says group

Category: Money

Updated: 02/02/2010
First Published: 02/02/2010

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Inexperienced consumers attempting to file their online Self Assessment return last weekend were not given sufficient help and may have been unfairly penalised, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has claimed.

Over 6.4 million people are thought to have filed their 2008-09 tax return online this year, a 12 per cent increase on 2007-08.

A heavy advertising campaign highlighting Sunday's deadline by HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) has encouraged consumers to file their tax return online.

However, research by the LITRG has found that some people may have found themselves unable to complete their returns; some of whom may find themselves unfairly penalised.

The group found that somebody needing help with a simple tax question in the morning or afternoon of Saturday 30 January would have to wait an average of 14 minutes to speak with an adviser, 'far too long, especially for someone calling on a mobile phone,' said the LITRG.

Calling later in the day produced a worse result, with an automated voice advising that lines were very busy and the caller should ring back later.

The online forms were found to be full of jargon for inexperienced users, with others 'baffling for even experienced users.'

As a result of the failings, the LITRG has called on consumers that tried to file a return but couldn't to challenge any charges.

"HMRC might argue that people should not leave it so late to file their returns. But that misses the point," said the group.

"There is a statutory deadline, and if people do what they are supposed to do on or before that deadline, they have complied with the law.

"HMRC should make it as easy as possible to assist those who comply with their tax obligations and whether they do so well before or just before the deadline is neither here nor there."

Consumers have been told to challenge charges on the grounds they had an excuse for late filing.

Said the LITRG: "We want HMRC to recognise genuine cases as having a reasonable excuse, and to remit the penalty."

Find the best savings accounts for you - Compare Cash ISAs

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

Related Articles

Give your finances a pre-Christmas health check

The festive season is rapidly approaching, and with it comes thoughts of how you’re going to fund the whole thing. It’s important to be on the ball, and giving your finances a pre-Christmas health check could be one of the best things you do.

Parents to spend £552 on children this half term

Autumn has truly arrived – and half term with it. This looks to be bad news for parents’ wallets, as research from American Express shows they will be spending an average of £276 per child this holiday break.

Are you still funding your children’s lifestyle?

While many parents like to provide financial support to their children while they grow up, often helping out with things like weddings, cars and university fees, others find that they fund more of their children’s lifestyle than they’d like.