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Are £100 late filing fines legal or not?

Judge rules that automatic fines are not legal

Didn't find your answer?

In this case -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/26/automatic-fines-late-tax-retu...

There is more than an implication that the £100 Tax Return late filing fine (and presumably any later automatic associated fines) are illegal as they have not been issued by humans.

I can see some merit in this as even run-of-the-mill parking and speeding fines require human intervention to assess the situation and authorise the fine.

Judge Richard Thomas seems to be on his own with this which begs the question as to who is actually right.

If you are having to deal with late filing fines, will you use this argument to have the fine cancelled?

 

Replies (21)

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By thevaliant
01st Feb 2018 11:57

Utter comedy by the judge. I mean, come on.

IF DATE => 1 February 2018
IF TAXRETURN 5 APRIL 2017 SUBMITTED = FALSE

THEN ISSUE PENALTY*

Hardly rocket science. It's not like a properly programmed HMRC computer** couldn't do what a human would only do looking at the data.

* I'm not a computer programmer - this code is probably b*llocks but you get my drift
** I see now the fatal flaw in my argument

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Replying to thevaliant:
Tornado
By Tornado
01st Feb 2018 12:10

That may be fair comment but if the law says that a human must review and issue a fine, then that is the law regardless of what logic suggests.

The question is not about what appears to be lawful or should be lawful, it is about what is lawful.

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Replying to thevaliant:
Portia profile image
By Portia Nina Levin
01st Feb 2018 12:34

Read' em and weep:
http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKFTT/TC/2017/TC06225.html

The utter comedy you refer to emanates from the Court of Appeal decision of Lord Dyson MR in Donaldson.

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Replying to Portia Nina Levin:
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By rbw
05th Feb 2018 12:17

Portia Nina Levin wrote:

The utter comedy you refer to emanates from the Court of Appeal decision of Lord Dyson MR in Donaldson.

And Keith Gordon had written on the issue in connection with other cases - see eg

https://www.taxation.co.uk/Articles/2014/02/04/320031/hamstrung-durch-te...

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Replying to Portia Nina Levin:
RLI
By lionofludesch
05th Feb 2018 14:02

Portia Nina Levin wrote:

The utter comedy you refer to emanates from the Court of Appeal decision of Lord Dyson MR in Donaldson.

Lord Dyson is the Queen's chauffeur, is he not ?

Master of the Rolls ?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Portia profile image
By Portia Nina Levin
15th Feb 2018 12:22

lionofludesch wrote:

Lord Dyson is the Queen's chauffeur, is he not ?

He installs airblades at Buck House, I think.

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Replying to Portia Nina Levin:
RLI
By lionofludesch
15th Feb 2018 13:10

Oh yes, that's right.

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By Vaughan Blake1
01st Feb 2018 12:32

I have many beefs with HMRC, but automatic penalties are not one of them. If you have a 'reasonable excuse I find HMRC take a very sensible view.
The penalties also seem fair, building from a £100 'slap on the wrist' to much larger and significant figures over time.
As the valiant shows, it is a binary decision, not needing any human consideration. I suspect that Judge Thomas' judgment won't stand for long.

Equally, so are speed limits binary, so the West Mercia police chief may have a point!

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By justsotax
01st Feb 2018 12:46

of course the police chief would have a point if we new that the speedo's on each car was 100% accurate...I must be honest I thought the reason for the 10% (or any slight movement away from the exact limit) was to eliminate issue over instrument inaccuracy. (although the common man probably isn't chauffeured everywhere, or can travel under blues n twos protection - I am not bitter...much)

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Portia profile image
By Portia Nina Levin
01st Feb 2018 13:52

Does the computer put the penalty notices in the envelope all by itself?

And what does "issued" actually mean?

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Replying to Portia Nina Levin:
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By Chris Smail
01st Feb 2018 13:55

[quote=Portia Nina Levin]

Does the computer put the penalty notices in the envelope all by itself?

- I would hope so.

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Replying to Portia Nina Levin:
By Paul D Utherone
01st Feb 2018 14:36

Portia Nina Levin wrote:

Does the computer put the penalty notices in the envelope all by itself?

No. Its buddy the electronic envelope stuffer does that

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Replying to Paul D Utherone:
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By Vaughan Blake1
01st Feb 2018 16:13

Is there an automatic envelope moistener?

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Replying to Vaughan Blake1:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
01st Feb 2018 16:31

Must admit when I worked in industry I got VERY excited by getting our statement printer linked to and envelope stuffing machine which all dropped into a post bag (or on the floor if you forget to put on there). It was my little improvement project pushed through in the face of senior management objections.

Previously (it was a fast growing company) we had the whole accounts and billing department and several of operations "lickin and sticking" for half an hour on statement day rather than have one poor junior spend all day on it.

No doubt another me binned it and got it all to email out, but it was a beautiful thing to watch!

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By rbw
05th Feb 2018 12:09

Seems to me the case also casts doubt on much else besides penalties.

Time for legislation "for the avoidance of doubt" - just in case the senior judiciary persist in what seems to me a rather antiquated interpretation of the statute.

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By john hextall
05th Feb 2018 12:15

I think it is a rather fine interpretation and makes a clear statement that HMRC are not authorised to go round inventing laws for themselves.

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By penelope pitstop
05th Feb 2018 12:36

When I worked for the Inland Revenue decades ago they used to post letters in hundreds of brown envelopes each day. So how do you manually seal hundreds of envelopes at a time?
Answer, those crafty civil servants had a special paintbrush-like implement which you dunked into a receptacle of water, lined up 10 to 20 envelopes at a time and then soaked the gummy part of the envelopes en masse. So it would take minutes to seal up 1,000 envelopes.
However, one day, we caught one of the YTS (Youth Training Scheme) kids licking the envelopes closed. He must have licked hundreds of envelopes that afternoon. His attention was then drawn to the paintbrush-like implement and water and asked why he hadn't used this equipment to seal the envelopes.
His response was that he preferred to lick the envelopes closed "because I like the taste".
YUK!
I don't know however if they still use the same old technique or if they have a team of gum-lickers!!!

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Replying to penelope pitstop:
By SteveHa
05th Feb 2018 12:40

In our office it was rollers, not paint brushes.

We called the tray the duck pond.

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Replying to SteveHa:
By coolmanwithbeard
05th Feb 2018 16:45

Yes duck pond in LP30 where we used to address and stuff tax returns by hand and write out P2 coding notices by hand it required careful plavement of 20 or more envelopes a swipe of the wet brush and then a quick and careful fold and stick movement with each envelope

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RLI
By lionofludesch
05th Feb 2018 13:20

It's a jolly interesting comment, though I suspect it'd be overturned at some point on its route through the courts, rendering it academic.

My issue with penalties is the size of them - in particular, proportionality. A £1600 penalty for letting HMRC keep your money for an extra year is little short of ludicrous.

Not to mention the scandalous timing of the £10 a day and six-month penalties. One day you get a notice saying you've clocked up 90 £10 penalties, the next, you get another saying that another £300 had been added before the £900 notice reached you !

If HMRC want to issue 90 penalties, they should issue 90 notices. Or at the very least, a bit more often than they do at present.

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Jason Piper
By Jason Piper
05th Feb 2018 13:51

Quite apart from s100 interpretation point, it's not unknown for HMRC to issue invalid penalties for other reasons - see https://blogs.accaglobal.com/2010/08/27/when-a-penalty-isnt-a-penalty/
So it's always worth checking the paperwork, just in case.

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