We criticise the way taxpayers are told they have missed the deadline for paying tax
This week many agents and taxpayers have received eye-catching ‘Self Assessment: Final Demand’ notices prominently stating that the taxpayer has missed the deadline for paying tax. Although the Tax Faculty welcomes HMRC’s initiative to make its literature clearer, the notices have not been well received by everyone and they do have some shortcomings which members have been drawing to our attention:
- Although dated 16 February 2009, many were received after 1 March 2009 by which time it was too late to avoid the 5% surcharge.
- In some cases the amount shown as owing is the first payment on account for 2008/09 or interest charges. Neither of these attracts a surcharge, but the notice still states that a surcharge of 5% will be added.
- The notices starts ‘You have missed the …deadline’ rather than ‘We think you may have missed…the deadline’. This has caused unnecessary concern to taxpayers and costs for agents investigating the issue.
- The notices do not give sufficient prominence to the statement, ‘If you have already paid, thank you’.
- No telephone number is provided for making payment, only online payment details and a payslip on the reverse.
- There is no guidance to tell the taxpayer what to do if they think the demand may be wrong, which they can be for many reasons.
On the positive side, the heading ‘Problems paying?’ is prominent and provides a contact number.
We plan to write to HMRC with our comments so if you have any comments on these notices which are not covered above, please post your comment here or email Philippa.firstname.lastname@example.org.