When the Tax Man Gets it Wrong…..ESC A19

Being a man…, sorry a married man, sometimes I am informed that I don’t get things completely right. Don’t get me wrong I am quite happy to acknowledge that Mrs TTF makes the rules. What I don’t fully appreciate is why those rules are subject to change without notice! My better half puts this down to my inability to listen.

For example when stacking the dishwasher I obviously misheard the previous instruction that I was meant to put the big plates at the back. In fact they should now (and, as far as my beloved is concerned, always should) be stacked at the front.

Alternatively when feeding the children I am meant to give them a large meal at lunch not at dinner. Although I’m sure I was informed it was the reverse.

When I pondered this point later, and queried the instruction, (all men are shaking their heads now) it was concluded by my delectable dictator that I must need my ears syringing.

To be honest it sometimes feels like I am expected to read minds…..then I realise that I’m wrong and in fact I should appreciate what my little piranha fish meant not what I thought she said.

Unfortunately my cute commandant is always proved right in the end and her continued correction is always welcome. But what redress do you have if HMRC just don’t listen and then get it wrong even after you have told them?

The Tax Bit

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) offer certain concessions which although not law can help the taxpayer.

One of these concessions is ESC A19, delays in using information. In essence if HMRC should have already collected tax due because the information had already been provided to it and HMRC have failed or delayed to use this information, then HMRC may agree not to collect it. As always there are a few hoops to jump through which in summary are:

a) HMRC must have failed to use information within twelve months of the tax year that it was received. Alternatively if HMRC have been informed on various occasions or they have let arrears build up over two consecutive tax years then a claim may be available.

b) It was reasonable for you to believe that your tax affairs were in order.

If the above is the case then you should write to your tax office and provide the following information:

•what tax year and underpayment the claim relates to
•what information HMRC failed to make proper and timely use of and any supporting information
•what date this information was provided
•reason(s) why you thought your tax affairs were in order prior to receiving the Tax Calculation

As mentioned above HMRC do not have to grant the concession but in my experience if a mistake has been made they will honour it.

On second thoughts I would recommend that you arrange for your wife to write the letter. In my experience she would be more qualified in telling HMRC that they are wrong!

By Peter Cross

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