Penalty terror

Penalty terror

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Have we totally lost our sense of proportion?

HMRC have got the entire nation and the accountantancy profession wound up by the great deadline of 31st January in fear that they will impose a penalty of ONE HUNDRED POUNDS if we do not comply with their wishes. We are all running around like scalded chickens jumping to the HMRC tune for what is almost enough to fill a car with petrol.

HMRC do not perform yet expect us to - it is grossly inequitable and yet it continues year after year.

Replies (10)

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By Chris Wise
27th Jan 2011 09:06

Who calls the tune?

Do we run around because HMRC expect us to or because our clients expect us to, even when they only supply the information at the 11th hour?

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By ACDWebb
27th Jan 2011 09:13


anyway it is statute not just HMRC's wishes.

If clients cannot be bothered to get their information to you 'til the eleventh hour why pander to them if you have been asking for the info regularly.

Next year send reminders and make it very clear that if the info is not received in good time (say 30 Nov) then you will not guarantee being able to submit the return by 31 Jan

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By cymraeg_draig
27th Jan 2011 09:18

HMRC are a disgrace

Totally agree on one point - taxpayers are "fined" £100 at the drop of a hat, but when HMRC screw up and cost us and clients thousands of pounds in extra work, stress, etc they prevaricate about meeting the costs caused by their ineptitude.

We even had a letter from them incredibly saying that by claiming costs from them we would be taking taxpayers money which meant less money to treat sick people (moral blackmail).  Our reply was to the effect that if the writer was that concerned perhaps they should pay it out of their gold plated pension pot.



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By MarionMorrison
27th Jan 2011 09:18

Human Nature

No - the penalty is a pathetic slap on the wrists really in the context of some Returns I'm stitching together.  For someone with a liability in excess of £250K, what's a hundred quid.  But it does have the impression of a scary borderline that you shouldn't cross and the Revenue have done a good job of making it public knowledge.

Because if there wasn't a deadline, a lot of my clients would never lift a thing.  It's the only thing that gets them off their backsides to do anything.  All the sensible arguments about financial planning and knowing liabilities in advance count for nothing against the sheer distaste with which they view the whole task.

Next year things will be different...but they never are!

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By BigBadWolf
27th Jan 2011 09:19

Ample time

People have had 9 months to get their tax returns done ...  so why wait till the last minute? How is that HMRC's fault? Surely they should penalise non compliant tax payers.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
27th Jan 2011 09:44

scalded chicken?

Sod em I say

No skin off my nose if they are late.

I  do agree the £100 is rather small. 10% of the tax arising might focus the client's mind somewhat more.


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By thisistibi
27th Jan 2011 10:01

Not just 100 quid

I'm not sure if you are questioning why we bother meeting the deadline for the sake of £100, or whether you're saying that since HMRC are so crap, they shouldn't be allowed to have such a deadline.  I'm not sure the latter point is valid for obvious reasons.

I would add though, that it's not just a £100 penalty.  The fact that it increases the window for HMRC to enquire into your tax return by up to 3 months means you don't get the feeling of "certainty" over your tax position after a year, which is good piece of mind.  Furthermore, I think that an Inspector would probably have more questions over your tax affairs as a whole if you fail to meet the deadline.  The impression is created of someone who can't even manage to keep to a reasonable deadline, which raises questions over the accuracy of the return as a whole.

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Nichola Ross Martin
By Nichola Ross Martin
27th Jan 2011 10:24


a £100 penalty is nothing compared to the penalties you can clock up for careless errors.

So I would not worry about being late and be more concerned about being accurate.

Virtual Tax Support for accountants (with lots of FREE guidance on the new tax penalties) :

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By taxhound
27th Jan 2011 10:35


I have to say I am glad there IS a deadline (even though I hate January), because it is good to be able to put pressure on clients.  Remember the pre self-assessment days when you might be doing 3 years of tax returns in one go?  I would not like to go back to that again.  It's bad enough trying to get them to remember which savings accounts they opened and closed last year, let alone before that.

I am relieved that 2010 will be "done" within the next few days and we can move on to more current things.  Apart, of course, for the two clients who still haven't bothered to send in their records and I am seriously considering parting company with, because this is not the way I want to work.  (They WILL be fined now, even if they bring their books in today.  I am not working this weekend).

Ten months should be long enough and I am going to toughen up my approach for next year - particularly for clients where accounts/rental schedules are required.

£100 is not a huge amount, but add on the 5% surcharge at the end of Feb ( because they didn't know what to pay) and it can start to be more significant.

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By bernard michael bayly
27th Jan 2011 14:24

Penalty or not

Thanks everyone for your comments.  My original posting was borne out of frustration at HMRC incompetence and clients' ineptitude but this afternoon I feel a bit better having done 2 easy returns for happy clients.

Roll on Feb 1

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