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Automatic fines for late tax return invalid, HMRC warned

  • A judge has told HMRC that a lateness fine issued by a computer is not valid
  • He said the requirement was for a ‘flesh and blood human being’ to issue it
  • The deadline for self-assessment for the last tax year passes on January 31 

Automatic fines for tax returns submitted after the January 31 deadline may not be legal, HM Revenue and Customs has been warned. 

A judge has told HMRC that a fine would only be valid if it was issued by a human rather than automatically triggered by a computer, the Daily Telegraph reports. 

The self-assessment deadline passes at the end of the month but the judge’s comments at a tribunal hearing could trigger a wave of appeals from late-filing taxpayers. 

Judge Richard Thomas said the requirement was for a ‘flesh and blood human being who is an officer for HMRC’ to make an assessment. 

Automatic fines for tax returns submitted after the January 31 deadline may not be legal, HM Revenue and Customs has been warned

The tribunal concerned a small property business which had filed two weeks late, but was let off a fine because the penalty had been issued automatically, it is reported. 

HMRC will not appeal against the decision. A spokesperson for HMRC said the case would not affect taxpayers submitting their returns this year, it was reported. 

A late tax return can attract an automatic fine of £100, rising swiftly by £10 a day if the self-assessment is still not submitted soon afterwards, even if no tax is due.

The maximum fine is £900, with a further fine possible if someone is over six months late filing the return.  

The 31 January deadline covers the tax year from April 2016 to April 2017, while the deadline for submitting a paper return passed at the end of October last year. 

A judge has told HMRC (pictured) that a fine would only be valid if it was issued by a human rather than automatically triggered by a computer

A judge has told HMRC (pictured) that a fine would only be valid if it was issued by a human rather than automatically triggered by a computer



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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