Have you got 30 days extra to pay your tax? Result.
As it can scarcely have failed to escape your notice, the 31 July deadline for paying the second Payment on Account is close upon us, and you may be scrabbling around trying to find the pennies to meet your tax bill. But never fear, a few (500,000) lucky taxpayers have just been granted a 30 day extension to the payment deadline- because HMRC made a balls-up technical error.
You see, normally HMRC issue a statement to those affected in July, which confirms the amount due and attaches a payslip that is required for offline payment. However, about 500,000 taxpayers will not receive their statement, and HMRC announced yesterday that these people will not be charged interest on amounts paid late until 30 days after the due date.
The HMRC announcement does not specify the exact nature of the technical glitch, but the Telegraph are suggesting they simply ran out of paper- a hypothesis confirmed by the fact that it is only the ‘end of the batch’ taxpayers who are affected and HMRC’s excuse that “the volumes on this occasion have risen out of all proportion to previous patterns. HMRC will now ensure that they understand the reasons for this and will be fully prepared for any future rises.”
So are you one of the lucky ones? Well, if you should have received a statement you should have received it by now, and HMRC state that if your ten digit Unique Taxpayer Reference ends with the numbers from 70 to 99 then you may be affected. So if your UTR number (shown on the front of your Tax Return form and at the top of past statements) is 1234567890, you are in the money (for another 30 days) but if it’s 9876543210, you need to cough up now. HMRC will send statements to those without one “as soon as possible”.
While some of you will no doubt be celebrating- after all a delay in paying the taxman if, while not as good as not paying them at all, is certainly better than a smack in the belly with a wet piece of bacon, it doesn’t really reflect very well on HMRC. I mean, if this was the first time this had happened, maybe, but the same thing, affecting a similar number of people, happened in January 2008. Good job HMRC are learning from past mistakes,eh. Perhaps there will be a stationery procurement officer down at the JobCentre this week.
Still, this gesture of HMRC will no doubt be welcomed as an apology. No matter what your opinions on the matter, Self Assessment means precisely that, and it is not HMRC’s job, nor considered a reasonable excuse, to remind you of the amount to pay. Still, I guess dealing with one irate individual who didn’t receive a statement is an easier job than dealing with half a million of them.
“HMRC are sorry if anyone experiences any inconvenience.”