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Beware - clients tax statement errors!

Have any other readers come across this particular problem?

We have just received our 600 or so clients statement of accounts and I have noticed that out of the first 200 I have reviewed at least 4 clients addresses seem to have changed back to addresses that they vacated at least 6-7 years ago. I have phoned HMRC and alerted them of this - it seems that all the addresses have been changed by the Revenue computer but no-one seems to know why at present. This creates a problem in that this Junes statements are now being sent to obsolete address - even though past statements have gone to the correct addresses!! This of course may hinder some clients in paying the tax due at the end of July 2007!

Is this just me or is this going to be a nationwide issue?
Iain Lindsey

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redress
The main problem with HMRC is that they will (sometimes) refund cost to taxpayers that have been incurred as a result of HMRC error but they will not directly pay an agent. The only way round it that I can see is to firstly obtain an admission that HMRC error has occured, perhaps by writing in with an official complaint rather than just sending in a letter detailing the corrections needed, and to then bill the client for the work incurred with HMRC then being asked to refund the cost of the invoice to the client. The net result is that the client has their money refunded so HMRC has indirectly paid your invoice. It's a bit messy but I can't see any other way of doing this. You would, of course, have to explain the process to your clients...

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Revenue help??
Having been alerted by the original posting, I had a test done on our statement copies delivered today, and in the first 50 or so examined, faulty addresses have been found on 5 = about 10%. Just as interesting is that the tax districts seem to have been changed back to the districts associated with the old addresses

I have contacted two call centres about specific clients and neither centre was aware of this problem - so much for the Revenue being in a position to give adequate advice to agents!!!

Only advice I was given was to write to the tax district shown (even if it is incorrect) giving them the correct details and requesting that the record is corrected.

There are two major issues here. Firstly if the SA statements have been sent to the wrong address, the taxpayer will not receive the reminder and (potentially) not pay tax by the due date. Secondly there is the matter of data protection - client's information, including UTR, and in some cases NI Number and PAYE reference are being sent out to incorrect addresses exposing the taxpayer to potential identify theft or other misuse of the information.

What rights does the taxpayer have in these circumstances, and what right to agents have to recovery of costs to sort this mess out for their clients - it seems very unfair to bill clients for time spent sorting this foulup and we certainly will not be doing so, but that leaves us out of pocket in respect of time and costs associated with notifying clients regarding their payments (posting the statement to the correct address wound be the minimum).

Any chance of a compensation claim against the Revenue?

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Service
It is now quite clear that HMRC is deliberately running down its services so that it is relied upon less and less by the 'customer'.

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address changes
This was something that came to light here a while back. The word from HMRC was that there was a computer 'glitch' that erased the current address and substituted the previous one on the record of some taxpayers at some point in January. God only knows how many people were affected across the country but we identified a number approximating to 1% of our clients. More may still come to life. The worst case that we had was an address 8 years out of date but I understand that older ones have been substituted in some cases. Most came to light at the annual issue of returns when HMRC became aware of the number returned to them.

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