HMRC have announced that those members of the public not able to pay their taxes or submit tax returns on time will be able to appeal against the late filing penalties they will inevitably get this winter. From what we have been hearing HMRC are expecting everyone to have adequate proof of sickness. Does this mean that they will be expected to waste the time of the medical community who, if I am right, are rather busy these days?
What will happen if tax filers struggle with the HMRC online service and cannot get help over the phone, perhaps because HMRC are closing early, not open over the two Sundays, under-staffed on the helplines and rather strangely make you wait 40 minutes in a queue (which has been the case the past year)?
What are people to do?
Buy last minute accounting software from some of the companies climbing on the band wagon to further stress and pressure people into adopting overbearing products and systems designed for businesses not necessarily for sole traders, who probably use their personal bank accounts to get paid, so have mixed use issues? These software products are now being pedalled to the public as the fix-all solution — but who wants to have all their personal bank info imported into a tax and accounting package? Are people expected to analyse every minutiae and, in doing so, become experts on what they can claim or most likely not claim anyway! Or have to master percentages for use of things such as telephone, Internet usage and then apportion in the software (how does this work if at all)?
When I worked with the office of tax simplification we worked out what was actually happening in society and gave it credence;
- People earn an income from dealing with their clients;
- They may or may not provide materials or use tools;
- They may or may not use transport;
- They probably have some communication and technology costs;
- Then they may have some professional costs like insurance.
It’s hardly rocket science.
When you come to use the HMRC software it leads you through the maze somewhat similar to the psychology of coping with your first orientation of a new Ikea store!