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HMRC accounts illustrate 2019-20 juggling act

HMRC juggles its accounting balls

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Wendy Bradley takes a closer look at what HMRC’s annual report and accounts for the year to 31 March 2020 tell us, and which statements are spinning balls.

4th Jan 2021
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The “balls” in question feature in HMRC’s 2019-20 annual report and are represented by the three circles in the diagram above: HMRC’s own costs; the costs it imposes on the taxpayer; and the tax it brings in and pays out.

The annual report is divided into these three sections.

Tax ball

This is the “Trust Statement” which summaries the tax collected, which is HMRC’s core activity. The audit on this part of the accounts is unqualified, but look a little closer...

Tax errors

As happens every year, the National Audit Office analysis comes up with a number of errors, including these examples:

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    Replies (9)

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    avatar
    By richard thomas
    05th Jan 2021 11:53

    Spot on as usual, Wendy.

    Thanks (2)
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    By johnjenkins
    06th Jan 2021 10:19

    Great ain't it. Jimbo says it's an easy job to put an indicator on a return to waiver the penalty yet when asked about extending the 31st Jan deadline because of covid, he says it's too complicated. What a tossa.

    Thanks (0)
    Replying to johnjenkins:
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    By the_Poacher
    06th Jan 2021 17:32

    Changing computer systems might cost a lot of money snd a whole scale moving of the filing date might mean that taxpayers who would otherwise have met the 31/1 deadline won’t bother. A case by case consideration seems sensible

    Thanks (0)
    Replying to the_Poacher:
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    By johnjenkins
    07th Jan 2021 09:17

    You know as well as I do a case by case consideration means HMRC will be looking for loopholes so that the penalty will stand, that's exactly why they are not having a blanket extension. These are not normal times for business so common sense has to be applied. The FTT could be inundated with appeals let alone the bad feeling caused. Yes of course there will be a few who take advantage but that will happen in any scenario.

    Thanks (0)
    David Ross
    By davidross
    06th Jan 2021 10:21

    "There is an ability for our agents to change the due date on our systems for when they expect the return, which would then in turn suppress the issue of the penalties"

    How, please?

    Thanks (0)
    Replying to davidross:
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    By the_Poacher
    06th Jan 2021 17:35

    I think by agents he means operators of computers in HMRC call centres flogging away for the national minimum wage

    Thanks (1)
    Replying to davidross:
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    By richard thomas
    06th Jan 2021 17:53

    A good question. They can't actually change the due date of course because that would be changing the law. In a number of appeals against penalties for late filing that I heard the papers showed that when people phoned HMRC to give a reasonable excuse before the filing date, the officer would change the due date shown on HMRC's SA computer, so that the weekly sweep for late filing penalties would not pick it up until after the date on the system. In other words they are saying:
    "We accept you have a reasonable excuse, but unless you file by x date we will take it that the excuse has ceased."

    Thanks (0)
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    By Hugo Fair
    06th Jan 2021 10:27

    One of the best, and least biased, articles I've read on AW. But if the Treasury Select Committee knows all this and reports on it, why isn't the feeble national press (or indeed BBC) reporting the findings?

    Thanks (2)
    Replying to Hugo Fair:
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    By 4b4
    06th Jan 2021 15:54

    Hugo Fair wrote:

    One of the best, and least biased, articles I've read on AW. But if the Treasury Select Committee knows all this and reports on it, why isn't the feeble national press (or indeed BBC) reporting the findings?

    Er, because it's not politically expedient?

    Thanks (0)