HMRC loses Lomas paper return case

Judge Geraint Jones QC has ruled in favour of the taxpayer at a recent first tier tribunal saying HMRC acted in an "unconscionable manner" when dealing with a late Self Assessment filing.

As highlighted by The Telegraph the decision can be seen as evidence of yet another victory for the taxpayer in the ongoing reasonable excuse debate.

In the case of Kathleen Lomas v HMRC, Lomas was first told she had to complete a tax return in January last year, when HMRC sent her a paper form, which she returned before the 31 January deadline.

HMRC then fined her £100 because paper returns had to be filed by 31 October the year before. The Revenue had not told the taxpayer she should file electronically or that January 31 is the deadline for online returns only.

Jones said: “The fact that HMRC did not return the paper tax return and insist that the appellant must file online leads me inexorably to the conclusion that it did, by its conduct, waive the requirement for the paper return to be filed by October 31, 2010, or for the appellant to file online by January 31.

“She lost the opportunity to file online within time and thus avoid any penalty. It is not for HMRC to act in such an unconscionable manner. It should, as a matter of good conscience and proper administration, it being a public body that should abide by the highest standards of good administration and fairness, have promptly informed the appellant. It did not do so."

 

Continued...

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Comments

I thought you had three months from receipt of the paper return

exceljockey | | Permalink

A client in January this year received a paper return for tax year ending 5 April 2012 - and it said that he could file the paper return on or before 31 Oct or within three months from the date of receipt of the paper return. He submitted the paper return by 31 Jan and seemingly HMRC accepted it.

Maybe there is a surprise coming in the post.........

should_be_working's picture

Geraint Jones Strikes Again    5 thanks

should_be_working | | Permalink

... and long may he continue to do so against the institutional incompetence of HMRC.

listerramjet's picture

and this means?    1 thanks

listerramjet | | Permalink

"Somewhere along the way, HMRC lost all sense of proportion ".  Is this a unique case?

Given the current mantra of fairness in tax then surely there is a political solution to this.

A new date    1 thanks

RogerMT | | Permalink

Didn't know there was a tax year that ended on 6th April 2011 :)

*[Article now corrected. Thanks for pointing out the error - Ed]

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

thomas34 | | Permalink

again.

 

Public Servants

kenatnam | | Permalink

The gods at HMRC have lost sight of the fact that they are there to serve us, the citizens of this country in the best and fairest way possible.

They seem to think that they are above the law acting as a faceless penaliser to the individual and never once asking how their service was or offering to pay for poor performance.

The whole system needs a complete overhaul starting out with fitness for purpose, which I don't think it achieves, then service to customers - it doesn't think it has any!!!!, then accountability to the country - which it doesn't think applies to it. 

If no heads roll when it makes idiotic mistakes such as this and wastes enormous amounts of taxpayers money & court time, then it will continue to happen with regularity.

Time to sharpen the axe!

 

HMRC and opening post

kenatnam | | Permalink

HMRC admitted last year at one point that it was (if my memory serves me right) opening post 3 months after delivery, so perhaps your paper submission will be on the premises on time............

Unconscionable

jmsynge | | Permalink

From an online Dictionary:

"Unconscionable"

adjective

  1. not guided or restrained by conscience; unscrupulous
  2. unreasonable, excessive, or immoderate
  3. not fair or just; outrageous: unconscionable demands

Whilst I have not had any experience of HMRC personnel acting in the above manner, obviously someone in there appears to. Perhaps they should be weeded and out and put on special projects which do not bring them into contact with the public.

Or is his honour just making a statement about the whole institution, in which case he is probably not being fair himself?

Judges have a tendency to make general statements to make political points, and this may just be one of them.

 

 

Long live Geraint Jones - he

Helen Rolfe | | Permalink

Long live Geraint Jones - he's a fine chap!!

Paul Bulpitt's picture

I love this:

Paul Bulpitt | | Permalink

I love this:

It is not for HMRC to act in such an unconscionable manner. It should, as a matter of good conscience and proper administration, it being a public body that should abide by the highest standards of good administration and fairness, have promptly informed the appellant. It did not do so.

Especially the bit about "highest standards of good administration and fairness" - I'm guessing the Judge hasn't had to deal with HMRC too much.

Geraint Jones

hiu612 | | Permalink

Here here.

HMRC should just back down as soon as they find out he will be hearing their cases!

Unconscionable    2 thanks

skelly | | Permalink

"Or is his honour just making a statement about the whole institution, in which case he is probably not being fair himself?

Judges have a tendency to make general statements to make political points, and this may just be one of them."

 

What sort of bizarre reading of the case is this?  Are you an HMRC plant?  The judge said, on reviewing the facts of the case that it was "...not for HMRC to act in such an unconscionable manner".  How is this in any way a general comment on HMRC?

I think it is you who have made a general point and are not being fair.

If you have never had experience of HMRC acting in an unconscionable way then you are clearly not a tax adviser!

Agreed

emilyduffy | | Permalink

Yes, according to TMA 1970 Section 8 (1F) and (1G) you have 3 months from the date of issue, if issued after 31 July / October following the year end. If you want HMRC to calculate the tax due you have 2 months from the date of issue. So not really sure what has gone on here!

HMRC say return issued in April

Ardeninian | | Permalink

I think, having read the case, HMRC say they issued a return in April as usual. Presumably Lomas received the usual hurry-up notice in January and phoned her tax office. If HMRC's system says the return was issued in April then the normal October and January deadlines apply. If their systems had instead shown the return issued on 10 January 2011 she would've had two months paper/three months online.

Fact remains that HMRC misled her by sending the paper return out.

UNCONSCIONABLE OVERSYSTEMATISED HMRC COMPUTER SYSTEMS

david5541 | | Permalink

this case should not have gone to a first tier tribunal! the fact is the only staff hmrc have now are "gofers" to "gofa this" and "gofa that"

The responses we get from them in writing, which i insist on could have easily been written by someone with the intelligence of a seven year old-9/10 times they are written by assistant officers-who are not even trainee inspectors and show ignorance of the legislation

UNCONSCIONABLE OVERSYSTEMATISED HMRC COMPUTER SYSTEMS

david5541 | | Permalink

this case should not have gone to a first tier tribunal! the fact is the only staff hmrc have now are "gofers" to "gofa this" and "gofa that"

The responses we get from them in writing, which i insist on could have easily been written by someone with the intelligence of a seven year old-9/10 times they are written by assistant officers-who are not even trainee inspectors and show ignorance of the legislation

QED

david5541 | | Permalink

[quote=Ardeninian]

I think, having read the case, HMRC say they issued a return in April as usual. Presumably Lomas received the usual hurry-up notice in January and phoned her tax office. If HMRC's system says the return was issued in April then the normal October and January deadlines apply. If their systems had instead shown the return issued on 10 January 2011 she would've had two months paper/three months online.

Fact remains that HMRC misled her by sending the paper return ouT"

QED

HMRC SYSTEMS ARE HOPELESSLY FAULTY!

OPENING POST

david5541 | | Permalink

[quote=kenatnam]

"HMRC admitted last year at one point that it was (if my memory serves me right) opening post 3 months after delivery, so perhaps your paper submission will be on the premises on time............"

[THE YEAR BEFORE IT WAS EVEN LONGER!

/quote]

NOTE OF THANKS

david5541 | | Permalink

[quote=should_be_working]

... and long may he continue to do so against the institutional incompetence of HMRC

i WOULD LIKE TO OFFER THE SAME NOTE OF THANKS TO MARGERET HODGE CHAIRMAN OF THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE WHO PUT HMRC UNDER THE KOSH OVER GOLDMAN SACHS AND VODAPHONE DEALS AMONGST OTHERS-yet few hmrc staff have any knowledge of this "i have a letter saying so"

A 'Judge' Cause

alandawson61 | | Permalink

Geraint Jones..........  Reminds me a bit of Lord Denning from the 1970's & 80's!

HMRC " unconscionable" behaviour

taxbakbristol | | Permalink

Sir Geraint Jones I think you mean!

DMGbus's picture

"Public servants"

DMGbus | | Permalink

kenatnam wrote:

The gods at HMRC have lost sight of the fact that they are there to serve us, the citizens of this country in the best and fairest way possible.

They seem to think that they are above the law acting as a faceless penaliser to the individual and never once asking how their service was or offering to pay for poor performance.

The whole system needs a complete overhaul starting out with fitness for purpose, which I don't think it achieves, then service to customers - it doesn't think it has any!!!!, then accountability to the country - which it doesn't think applies to it. 

If no heads roll when it makes idiotic mistakes such as this and wastes enormous amounts of taxpayers money & court time, then it will continue to happen with regularity.

Time to sharpen the axe!

 

 

About 5 years ago I came across some old archived tax paperwork dating from the late 1940's / early 1950's (negotiations on the then EPT (Excess Profits Tax).

Letters from HMRC were then signed off "Your obedient servant".

Times have changed!

Nowadays in invisible ink HMRC letters are effectively signed off "Your disobendient tormentor".

There certainly seems to be a "we're out to get 'em" attitude to ALL taxpayers - any which way they can there are individuals within HMRC who think that their job is to persecute taxpayers.   Effectively the system is out of control with aggrieved taxpayers put to the cost / inconvenience of making appeals against unfair penalties.  It is a lottery since not all tribunal chair people have commonsense and honour as a mindset (there's always the risk of an HMRC-employee attitude persecutor sitting at the Tribunal).

 

 

"Public Servants"

smallbeancounter | | Permalink

"There certainly seems to be a "we're out to get 'em" attitude to ALL taxpayers - any which way they can there are individuals within HMRC who think that their job is to persecute taxpayers."

An attitude like this on the part of government employees is a predictable symptom of a bankrupt government which relies on a ponzi state financing scheme and is trying to placate an excessive population which largely depends on state largesse at the tail-end of the era of abundant natural resources. It will get worse. 

How long before Geraint Jones moves on to pastures new?    1 thanks

Ken Howard | | Permalink

Given the number of cases where he's decided against HMRC, it must only be a matter of time before they move him out of the way and replace him with someone more sympathetic to HMRC's stance.  

I think we should all mount a campaign to have him promoted instead to the Board of HMRC where hopefully his common sense can prevail and change the mindset of the current idiots in charge.

Complete and utter waste of

zameer | | Permalink

Complete and utter waste of time and money!

I made a mistake complaining

Ybother | | Permalink

I made a mistake complaining about HMRC, they have the power to destroy you. You can complain to them all you want, they can pass you around all day. They employ their own Adjudication officer to check on them, so obviously the poorer qualified, the better. This is the State, this is britain, this is the state of britain.

exceljockey

HUGH W DUNLOP | | Permalink

I have had several self employed clients who received paper returns in January 2012 for the tax year ending 5th April 2012. The normal dates for filing these on paper is 31st October 2012 or 31st January 2013.