According to the government, HMRC has ‘intercepted’ more than £96 million in ‘fraudulent or incorrect’ tax repayment claims thanks to their new system, which spotted over 17,000 unjustified tax repayment claims. They checked an awesome 3.4 million self-assessment tax returns in all, a third of the 10.39 million filed, examining both online and paper returns. A record-breaking 89% of us who filed tax returns this time around did it online, compared to 8.76 million in the last tax year. And it looks like an impressive 92% of people filed their returns before the deadline.
HMRC is chuffed to bits with the results, saying that using cutting-edge technology to sort through millions of pieces of data is stopping fraudulent repayments in their tracks, supported by teams of ‘highly skilled tax specialists’ trained to identify suspicious activity.
HMRC’s commentary is rather condescending. As their Head of Personal Tax said, “We all know it’s easy to put off completing your self-assessment tax return, which is why it’s fantastic to see more customers than ever before completing theirs on time this year.” There’s no mention, of course, of the fact that tax returns are still baffling, still not written in Plain English, still monster things pages and pages long, and still a nightmare for most people to get to grips with.
How much will HMRC earn in fines for late submission?
In another report, HMRC claims about 870,000 self-assessment taxpayers missed the 31st January deadline and more than 385,000 completed their return on the last possible day, 31st January. Friday 29th January was HMRC’s busiest day, with over 21,000 returns submitted every hour.
The late fee penalty for self-assessment tax returns is £100. This means HMRC will earn a minimum of £87 million in fines. It doesn’t matter whether or not you owe any tax, if you file your return a day late you’ll get fined £100 anyway. If it’s more than three months late you’ll end up paying a tenner a day in fines. Leave it 6 months or more and the fines get even nastier, an extra £300 or 5% of your tax liability, whichever is the biggest sum.
The irony of personal taxes versus corporate tax
It’s ironic, when the current corporate tax laws allow businesses like Google to swerve paying full taxes in the UK, and Amazon only paid £11m or so in Britain during 2015…