A little Sunday tax quiz

A little Sunday tax quiz

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I am trying to get my head round this PAYE problem. Is there anyone who can work out this problem?

The previous accountant completed the payroll for a client incorrectly and got the number 6 and number 0 mixed up. He put through a salary for the client's wife at £16,300 and deducted £746 in tax. I took the client on after 6 April 2023 and put his accounts together. He told me that the pay should have been only £10,300 with no tax deducted, so I did a FPS to correct the error. The £746 was set off against the client's PAYE arrears. Now, months on, HMRC have sent a letter out asking the client's wife to repay them the £746; I tried phoning them several times, with phone calls over one hour, but could not contact a real person and just listened to the recorded message and music. I gave in and paid the £746 to HMRC because I cannot afford to lose the client. As far as I can see, the client and wife are in the same position as they would have been if wages had correctly been submitted at £10,300. Which means I am out of pocket by £746 and HMRC have received £746 they are not due to. HMRC did not come back to the client's wife about her refund of NIC.

Replies (49)

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By Kosher
10th Mar 2024 18:25

Yes this has been posted before but I think I didn't put the question correctly and it might have confused people.

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Replying to Kosher:
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By Paul Crowley
11th Mar 2024 01:36

It is exactly the same, but with different tax computation
This implies that the problem is more specific. Wife was paid all in one go, supposedly. Bank entries will not agree to the payslips and RTI submissions.
Client 'paid' £10600 gross. RTI payslip £16,600 gross?
NI would mess this up completely.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 08:54

Paul Crowley wrote:

It is exactly the same, but with different tax computation
This implies that the problem is more specific. Wife was paid all in one go, supposedly. Bank entries will not agree to the payslips and RTI submissions.
Client 'paid' £10600 gross. RTI payslip £16,600 gross?
NI would mess this up completely.


Cash business so wages paid in cash to avoid bank charges
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Replying to Kosher:
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By Paul Crowley
11th Mar 2024 09:41

Cash businesses are required to keep records. What do the cash records show?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 13:31

Paul Crowley wrote:

Cash businesses are required to keep records. What do the cash records show?


No cash records for wages, it all comes straight off payroll software.
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By Ruddles
10th Mar 2024 18:30

It’s not an arithmetical problem. What do HMRC think the wife’s earnings were for the year?

Why would you lose a client because of the previous accountant’s error?

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Replying to Ruddles:
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By Kosher
10th Mar 2024 18:44

Ruddles wrote:

It’s not an arithmetical problem. What do HMRC think the wife’s earnings were for the year?

Why would you lose a client because of the previous accountant’s error?


HMRC now take the earnings to be £10,300.

I worked for the previous accountant in 2022/23 and earlier in a freelance position doing VATs and submitting Income and Corporation tax returns only. The accountant had a payroll clerk seeing to all his client's payroll.

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By DKB-Sheffield
10th Mar 2024 18:43

Juat to clarify...

Is this tax? Per the opening of your OP?

Or

Is this NI per the closing of your OP?

If the latter... why was wife chased for underpayment of NICs deducted through PAYE? (Indeed, why was wife chased for any underpayment of PAYE - and not the employer?)

Why, oh why, did you pay the tax? It was never your liability. And the best way to get HMRC to admit and correct an error (IME) is to do it before payment. And if it wasn't your error in the first place...?

Paying this liability for the client... whilst you may feel it 'kind' has the potential to open a few cans of worms IMO.

Even with your second posting of the question... many things still don't add up.

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By Kosher
10th Mar 2024 18:55

DKB-Sheffield wrote:

Juat to clarify...

Is this tax? Per the opening of your OP?

Or

Is this NI per the closing of your OP?

If the latter... why was wife chased for underpayment of NICs deducted through PAYE? (Indeed, why was wife chased for any underpayment of PAYE - and not the employer?)

Why, oh why, did you pay the tax? It was never your liability. And the best way to get HMRC to admit and correct an error (IME) is to do it before payment. And if it wasn't your error in the first place...?

Paying this liability for the client... whilst you may feel it 'kind' has the potential to open a few cans of worms IMO.

Even with your second posting of the question... many things still don't add up.

No they've not chased up on the NIC just the tax.

Like I said in the OP the previous accountant has gone out of business now and the clients I have now got off him are worth more to me than the freelance fees he owed me.

It is not a question of whether my post adds up or not; I just want confirmation that I am correct in what I have said - that HMRC have now received tax that wasn't due to them just to move on and forget about it. The tax payment will be entered on my 2023/24 as a compensation payment.

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Replying to Kosher:
By Ruddles
10th Mar 2024 19:19

Well clearly if the tax liability is £0 and you (or the taxpayer) has paid a sum of money to HMRC tax has been overpaid. If you want to just accept HMRC’s error and move on that is your choice.

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Replying to Ruddles:
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By Kosher
10th Mar 2024 19:41

Thank you for confirming I am correct. I don't have much income, above my state pension, and I am protecting what little I do have. Just hit on hard times in the winter months before my 2023/24 work comes in after 6/4. I just didn't want all the hassle with HMRC because I have a lot more important things to do in my private life.

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Replying to Kosher:
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By DKB-Sheffield
10th Mar 2024 22:59

Kosher wrote:

It is not a question of whether my post adds up or not; I just want confirmation that I am correct in what I have said - that HMRC have now received tax that wasn't due to them just to move on and forget about it. The tax payment will be entered on my 2023/24 as a compensation payment.

At the risk of playing devil's advocate I cannot categorically say whether you are right, or wrong - because the situation makes little sense on the facts provided. FWIW I don't think Ruddles was stating you are correct in your actions either.

It still doesn't add up... HMRC do not generally chase repayment of tax from taxpayers, unless tax is owed. There are genuine mistakes/ errors but... as others have suggested, it sounds very much like the tax payer has either received a refund (or reduced tax bill), based on the previously reported deductions - to which they are now not entitled.

As for your final point... you should check this 'so called' compensation payment. I can't see how the tax liability can be deductible in your return AND (presumably) be non-taxable on the recipient. Also be careful... your previous thread suggested you would be grossing this up - thus reducing your tax bill by the compensation amount. I assume (hope) this was my misreading of the suggestion.

Finally, I wouldn't be moving on if this liability is highly material to you. Either HMRC has been overpaid, or your client has had a refund at your expense. You certainly don't want the client (who would know if they had received a refund) believing you to be a 'soft touch'. However, that is your choice and I'm certainly not going to suggest which actions you should take.

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 09:10

I have a large legal battle undergoing to get back her money from a company that has ripped her off. My wife has major health problems and we need to get carers in to get a weight off my back. £746 is small fry compared to £115,000, so I've accepted I have lost the £746. It doesn't matter whether it goes down as compensation or not because my net earnings don't bring me into tax. Because we are pensioners we cannot get benefits to help with our situation. The clients don't know I've paid the £746 to HMRC and I've told them that the letter they got asking for payment was a HMRC error, so they don't think I am 'a soft touch'

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 09:14

DKB-Sheffield wrote:

Kosher wrote:

It is not a question of whether my post adds up or not; I just want confirmation that I am correct in what I have said - that HMRC have now received tax that wasn't due to them just to move on and forget about it. The tax payment will be entered on my 2023/24 as a compensation payment.

At the risk of playing devil's advocate I cannot categorically say whether you are right, or wrong - because the situation makes little sense on the facts provided. FWIW I don't think Ruddles was stating you are correct in your actions either.

It still doesn't add up... HMRC do not generally chase repayment of tax from taxpayers, unless tax is owed. There are genuine mistakes/ errors but... as others have suggested, it sounds very much like the tax payer has either received a refund (or reduced tax bill), based on the previously reported deductions - to which they are now not entitled.

As for your final point... you should check this 'so called' compensation payment. I can't see how the tax liability can be deductible in your return AND (presumably) be non-taxable on the recipient. Also be careful... your previous thread suggested you would be grossing this up - thus reducing your tax bill by the compensation amount. I assume (hope) this was my misreading of the suggestion.

Finally, I wouldn't be moving on if this liability is highly material to you. Either HMRC has been overpaid, or your client has had a refund at your expense. You certainly don't want the client (who would know if they had received a refund) believing you to be a 'soft touch'. However, that is your choice and I'm certainly not going to suggest which actions you should take.

Ignore my previous post because at the time I was just rankled that I had paid the £746. The grossing up ain't going to happen because the earnings I was on about went through my dissolved company's PAYE and the company cannot be reinstated and if I attempted that I would have my AML removed.

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JCACE
By jcace
10th Mar 2024 20:54

If I understand correctly, the employer was reported as having paid £16,300 to wife (with resulting tax, ees and ers NI liabilities), but actually only paid her £10,300. The employer has therefore overstated his PAYE liability, which will have reduced following your FPS, but the wife did not overpay tax. However, I wonder whether somehow the wife was refunded tax that she never paid in the first place and so HMRC now want that refund back.

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Replying to jcace:
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By Paul Crowley
11th Mar 2024 01:14

That is what I presumed last time around.
Wife is happy with the refund that she is not entitled to.
HMRC did nothing wrong, OP has financed the refund that she was not entitled to.
Have the figures changed from last version?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By DKB-Sheffield
11th Mar 2024 01:47

Good spot Paul... £60 more on this one!

I worry that the OP also suggested reducing their own income by >£3K in the last thread to get the full tax amount back on their return?! Sounds very suss, and if I read it right (which I can only assume I didn't!) likely illegal.

I do like a good 'quiz' on a Sunday. Not sure this is a 'quiz' though... unless it's one that is hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell?!

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By Paul Crowley
11th Mar 2024 01:56

Superb show

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 09:35

Error on my previous post

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Replying to jcace:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 09:15

Not the case!

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By Not Anonymous
11th Mar 2024 07:27

"HMRC have sent a letter out asking the client's wife to repay them the £746"

I suspect this is where the op is getting confused.

HMRC won't have asked the wife to reply "the" £746.

They will have, for reasons as yet not clear given the very limited information provided, repaid £746 to the wife as part of their annual P800 reconciliation process.

Then the revised RTI information was submitted and the wife has no longer had any tax deducted (per the revised FPS) so the £746 previously repaid to the wife is an over-repayment relating to her personal tax situation.

Why the full £746 was originally repaid only the wife or HMRC can explain.

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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 09:24

Well I think it has been proved that the client's wife is not better off by £746 or her husband's business. The HMRC have got £746 that they are not entitled to and my business is £746 out of pocket. I cannot bill my client for it because they don't owe that tax. I cannot get the money back off the previous accountant because he is now bankrupt due to proceedings HMRC took against him for fraud. How I show this in my accounts also doesn't matter because my net earnings, this year, are below the PA(start up costs on software, stationery and equipment)

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Replying to Kosher:
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By Paul Crowley
11th Mar 2024 09:50

You are clearly ignoring all comments.
The panel have identified the issue. The wife was asked for the money. That could only happen if she was refunded the money based on the wages and tax deducted as submitted. Then you came along and 'corrected' the wages for prior year.
You have paid the tax liability of a wife of a client. I can see no justification for claiming it as an expense.
You claim that Jcace is wrong
Why?
Have you seen the wife's bank statements?
Get to be her agent and find out if a payable order was sent to her that she 'lost'
You are going to struggle with lots of stuff if this little thing has you baffled.
You claimed that you were 'too busy' to call HMRC to sort it out. You would have achieved nothing if you were not the agent for client's wife.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 10:49

The wages get paid in cash. It is a café and most expenses are paid by cash to avoid bank charges. The client is just a small business and closes down in the winter months to avoid becoming VAT registered. They cannot afford to pay the tax back but I cannot afford to lose £600 fee income each year.

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By lesley.barnes
11th Mar 2024 10:08

"The £746 was set off against the client's PAYE arrears."

As the others have said it is likely that because of the way the previous accountant worked the wife's pay was not reduced by £746 when the figure of £16,300 was input to payroll. You corrected the payroll which then looked like the wife had overpaid tax and then got a refund. HMRC have realised she wasn't entitled to the refund because she never paid it and have asked for it back.

However what has happened to the offset against the clients PAYE arrears?

I'll be honest these look like high risk clients who receive cash payments and can pay £10,300 out in cash in one go.

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Replying to lesley.barnes:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 10:55

The £10,400 is wages over a full year. That is a weekly cash wage of £200. It is a small business. Average weekly cash takings of £2,000. Please tell me how you would pay out a wage of £10,400 out of a cash take of £2,000?

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Replying to Kosher:
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By lesley.barnes
11th Mar 2024 11:25

So how did the accountant manage to confuse £200 a week with £315.38 a week at the higher rate of £16,400 on the payslips and the client never noticed?

Point two - you never mentioned that the payments were made weekly.

Point three - I won't take time to reply to any of your questions again.

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Replying to lesley.barnes:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 13:30

lesley.barnes wrote:

So how did the accountant manage to confuse £200 a week with £315.38 a week at the higher rate of £16,400 on the payslips and the client never noticed?

Point two - you never mentioned that the payments were made weekly.

Point three - I won't take time to reply to any of your questions again.


I am only surmising that the previous accountant got it wrong - see later explanation. I am now beginning to think the previous employer got it right and the client told me a lie, to get the wages reduced, and to turn his loss into a profit. May well be the client is planning to sell his business and wanted the loss removing to make his business more saleable. I have just looked under Right Move and found out the business is up for sale. Thank you Lesley for your reply and you have every right not to reply to any of my questions again, very doubtful whether I will be posting again anyway because all my clients have straight forward accounts and next year I will have seen to everything myself.
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Replying to lesley.barnes:
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By Kosher
12th Mar 2024 19:31

lesley.barnes wrote:

"The £746 was set off against the client's PAYE arrears."

As the others have said it is likely that because of the way the previous accountant worked the wife's pay was not reduced by £746 when the figure of £16,300 was input to payroll. You corrected the payroll which then looked like the wife had overpaid tax and then got a refund. HMRC have realised she wasn't entitled to the refund because she never paid it and have asked for it back.

However what has happened to the offset against the clients PAYE arrears?

I'll be honest these look like high risk clients who receive cash payments and can pay £10,300 out in cash in one go.

Code number 1257L means the tax was £746. So if this was dealt with by SAR, then a drop from £16,300 to £10,400 would mean that the taxpayer would receive a refund of £746.

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Replying to lesley.barnes:
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By Kosher
12th Mar 2024 19:33

lesley.barnes wrote:

"The £746 was set off against the client's PAYE arrears."

As the others have said it is likely that because of the way the previous accountant worked the wife's pay was not reduced by £746 when the figure of £16,300 was input to payroll. You corrected the payroll which then looked like the wife had overpaid tax and then got a refund. HMRC have realised she wasn't entitled to the refund because she never paid it and have asked for it back.

However what has happened to the offset against the clients PAYE arrears?

I'll be honest these look like high risk clients who receive cash payments and can pay £10,300 out in cash in one go.

Love to know what software you operate that can turn out payslips that removes the tax calculated

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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 10:43

Would just like to point out to everybody that it is now Monday - it states Sunday quiz. The problem is now sorted and I am content that it was a HMRC error and I am out of pocket. It no longer matters to me that I have paid a tax bill that wasn't due, I've moved on and need to earn enough money to pay for our annual holiday in May, to get some sun and relax.

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Replying to Kosher:
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By Paul Crowley
11th Mar 2024 10:51

If you do not want answers, do not ask questions.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 11:06

Paul Crowley wrote:

If you do not want answers, do not ask questions.

I have been answered. It was simple arithmetic and I've accepted that I am out of pocket and the client and his wife have both been paid the correct amounts. The previous accountant put through £16,400, over the full year, and deducted £746 PAYE which the employer paid over to HMRC. I have now corrected the error and reduced the wages to £10,400, and because of the PA there are no deductions. The wife has repaid, by bank transfer in the current year, £5,254 into the business bank account and I've seen the bank statement. The refund of £746 was offset against the client's 2023/24 PAYE debts, I am the agent so I've seen this through my ASA. I am now satisfied that I am right since once person confirmed my thoughts about it.

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Replying to Kosher:
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By Paul Crowley
11th Mar 2024 11:23

Complete bunkum
If she was paid cash weekly at the 'correct' amount at the time why would she repay wages to the bank account of the trader

Do you really think we are that stupid?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 11:55

Paul Crowley wrote:

Complete bunkum
If she was paid cash weekly at the 'correct' amount at the time why would she repay wages to the bank account of the trader

Do you really think we are that stupid?


The trader is her husband and in 2022/23 the incorrect amounts were paid. I realised there was something wrong when the accounts showed a loss and discussed it with the client, he said that the wages were wrong and asked me to correct them. The wife then paid into her husband's business bank account. It is probable that the wages the previous accountant had done were correct and the trader got me to alter the submission to HMRC to turn the loss into a profit because he wanted to avoid a HMRC enquiry. Yes you might say a bit dodgy but I know the client's business is struggling, being a café in a small seasonal village. Like I said I don't mind being out of pocket to keep the client happy. If I lose my clients, with the outlay I've made, I will need to claim benefits to pay for a barrister. As you can tell I am a small part-time accountant and a 71 year old pensioner, whose disabled wife has been robbed of her savings that are needed for a care package. She can only get about £60 a week Attendance Allowance. We are both pensioners, I no longer have savings because the solicitor's bill was £17,000. I am trying to stay legal with all this but it is a struggle. 13 years ago a bank nearly repossessed my house and make us both homeless and I am not going to let that happen again without a fight. Today we will find out what we are likely to get back because the solicitors are about to make court proceedings and it is highly probable I will have to take out another bank loan for a barrister.
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Replying to Kosher:
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By DKB-Sheffield
11th Mar 2024 11:37

Kosher wrote:

The wife has repaid, by bank transfer in the current year, £5,254 into the business bank account and I've seen the bank statement.

Okay... this seems to take everything back to Paul Crowley's first answer in your previous thread...

So, the wife was actually paid £16,400 in the 2022/23 year which was correctly reported. After a 'change of heart', she has now paid back £6K (less deductions). The £10,400 amending FPS has re-written history. The company has received a refund (rightly, or wrongly). The wife may, or may not, have received a refund (nobody knows). HMRC have asked for a payment of tax (or repayment of an erroneous refund). You have paid it to preserve your annual fee income (telling the wife this was HMRC's error). You are then asking if this is the right thing to do... and have (apparently) had confirmation that your actions are correct.

Meanwhile... client is a 'cash-only' (higher risk) business, sailing mightily close to the VAT threshold, and likely paying the wife (you don't state in this thread whether she is an 'employee') below minimum wage.

Furthermore... the previous accountant, who you worked for, is facing proceedings for fraud and has given you his client list.

If this is all correct... which I'm now very doubtful to be the case..., you are probably correct in that the £700 payment to HMRC (and any potential deductibility) is - by far - the least of your concerns.

I would say... and it's very rare for me to post this on here... I don't believe this issue is in any way close to HMRC's zone of cupability.

I'll draw a line now... I'm out, and as you have suggested, you have bigger fish to fry.

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Replying to DKB-Sheffield:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 12:02

At last someone sees the light. Thank you very much DKB. As my last post states, I have bigger fish to fry. Luckily I have enough equity in the house to get an equity mortgage. We were looking to downsize to free up cash to pay the barrister, who might be charging us £20,000 because the case is in a foreign country and involves a foreign company.

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Replying to Kosher:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
12th Mar 2024 08:43

Kosher wrote:

We were looking to downsize to free up cash to pay the barrister, who might be charging us £20,000 because the case is in a foreign country and involves a foreign company.

Just when I thought the panel had solved this Sunday whodunnit, there's yet another twist in the plot!

What case, which foreign country, and why? Is the foreign company related to your mortgagor? Or is this upcoming case connected in any way to the £746 you lost, or to your former employer's (alleged) fraudulent activities?

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Kosher
12th Mar 2024 19:48

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

Kosher wrote:

We were looking to downsize to free up cash to pay the barrister, who might be charging us £20,000 because the case is in a foreign country and involves a foreign company.

Just when I thought the panel had solved this Sunday whodunnit, there's yet another twist in the plot!

What case, which foreign country, and why? Is the foreign company related to your mortgagor? Or is this upcoming case connected in any way to the £746 you lost, or to your former employer's (alleged) fraudulent activities?

Completely separate case involving my wife's lost savings. Someone mentioned if my case goes to court - am I pleading guilty?

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Kosher
12th Mar 2024 19:56

The posting referring to - am I pleading guilty - as disappeared

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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 11:12

This concludes this question satisfactorily. No need to go into the reasons why I paid this to HMRC. If it doesn't bother me then why should it bother others in this group?

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Replying to Kosher:
By Ruddles
11th Mar 2024 13:56

If it doesn't bother you, and you are quite happy just to write off the payment and move on, why did you bother asking the 'question' in the first place?

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Replying to Ruddles:
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By Kosher
11th Mar 2024 15:36

Just to confirm that HMRC was wrong

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Replying to Kosher:
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By gillybean04
12th Mar 2024 07:42

But it doesn't sound like they were.

You said both employer and employee received the same tax refund of £686 in your other post.

You don't think it is strange that both parties would receive a refund of the tax the wife paid when it was only paid by one of them, the wife, in the first place?

Sorry but this doesn't sound like it was down to HMRC error at all.

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Replying to gillybean04:
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By Kosher
12th Mar 2024 19:44

gillybean04 wrote:

But it doesn't sound like they were.

You said both employer and employee received the same tax refund of £686 in your other post.

You don't think it is strange that both parties would receive a refund of the tax the wife paid when it was only paid by one of them, the wife, in the first place?

Sorry but this doesn't sound like it was down to HMRC error at all.

Sorry but it appears you don't know how payroll software and payroll works.

Original payroll Employee gross pay £16,300 PAYE £746 net pay£15,554
Employer pays £746 to HMRC

Corrected payroll Employee gross pay £10,400 PAYE refund £746 net pay £11,146
Employer then gets the £746 offset against the arrears
Employee repays employer £5,154

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Replying to Kosher:
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By Matrix
12th Mar 2024 19:56

The employee has received a tax repayment through the payroll so owes this tax personally, so I agree with the others. (Or owes it to you since they have received £11,146 instead of £10,400.)

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Replying to Matrix:
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By Kosher
12th Mar 2024 20:31

Matrix wrote:

The employee has received a tax repayment through the payroll so owes this tax personally, so I agree with the others. (Or owes it to you since they have received £11,146 instead of £10,400.)

The fact that I've put the employee repaid £5,154 to the employer means their net pay was £10,4oo and not £11,146. Just a mistake of mine after a tiring day. I have such a lot going on at the same time that I am only sleeping 5 hours a night. Today I have had to advice a friend on employment and financial matters due to his ME. February to April is usually the time of the year I relax, but with our May foreign holiday coming up and still having travel insurance and spending and food money to find it is getting very stressful. Since benefit seekers are doing well and employees, in many jobs, getting huge increases it is costing pensioners more money to live, so we need extra state pensions or benefits to pay our way in life and get what we have worked for all our lives. State pension needs increasing to at least £15,000 to keep up with other people's earnings. State pensions, in other western countries, are much higher than UK. It is the reason why I cannot afford to retire from being an accountant. I didn't dream that the seven years it took me to get the qualifications in my early 40s, working round my wife's employment and 3 children, would lead me to living in poverty in my 70s.

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Replying to Kosher:
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By Matrix
12th Mar 2024 21:02

Put it behind you, I don’t think you will let anyone persuade you to reinvent history again!

Use the forum - there is help here. Also try CABA if you are ICAEW.

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Replying to Matrix:
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By Kosher
12th Mar 2024 21:43

Matrix wrote:

Put it behind you, I don’t think you will let anyone persuade you to reinvent history again!

Use the forum - there is help here. Also try CABA if you are ICAEW.


I have already come to my conclusion and said the post is now ended, but more and more postings are being made and coming into my inbox
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