High street retail giant WHSmith has been forced to pull a ‘do-it-yourself’ tax return guide from its shelves after an eagle-eyed AAT employee spotted it was based on the rules for 2014-2015.
The Tax Return Organiser 2014 guide offered ‘tax-saving tips to reduce your tax bill’ and promised to save potential purchasers money on accountancy fees.
However, Phil Hall, head of public affairs and public policy at the AAT, clocked the book on sale for £24.99 at WHSmith's Sevenoaks store this weekend and took the shop to task on Twitter.
Shameless @WHSmith (rated worst UK retailer by @WhichUK) is selling a “DIY” self-assessment #taxreturn pack for staggering £24.99 & its for 2014 i.e. it’s 5 years out of date! If stuck with your #tax return, find an @YourAAT licensed accountant here: https://t.co/FLw9jM7uf4… pic.twitter.com/p4VzcMYpnT
— PhilHallAAT (@PhilHallAAT) August 18, 2019
“Selling the public a DIY self assessment kit that’s five years out of date beggars belief,” said Hall. “There’s been various tax changes since then, not least numerous changes to the annual allowance, so any member of the public using these could find themselves getting into a real mess, and potentially facing an HMRC fine as a result.
“I’ve brought this issue to WHSmith’s attention and am pleased they have agreed to withdraw these from sale as a matter of urgency. If a member of the public needs help with their tax return I’d suggest going to a qualified professional such as an AAT licensed accountant,” continued Hall.
Returns due in January 2020 correspond to the 2018-19 tax year, and those who fail to file on time face automatic fines of £100, rising to more than £1,000 for returns which are filed more than a year late.
In a statement, WHSmith said it was removing the book (pictured above) from its stock system at once and it had been on sale “in error”.
“We take our responsibility for the products we sell very seriously,” the statement continued, “and we are removing this product from sale immediately.”
The store also confirmed that it would be investigating whether the sale was a one-off at its Sevenoaks Store, or if the book had been available elsewhere.
The guide is currently not listed on the WHSmith website but instead stocks the intriguingly titled All You Wanted to Know About Filing Tax Returns.