HMRC demands money from taxpayers who don’t owe anything

Workers have been forced to wait for months for tax rebates normally completed within weeks because of severe delays at HM Revenue & Customs.

Despite taxpayers facing £100 fines and being charged interest for settling their own bills late, the tax authority offers no compensation as standard when it is responsible for delays.

Mark Anderson, 55, from Scotland, said he was overtaxed £2,500 and told his case would not be dealt with until November. Mr Anderson was handed an unnecessary tax bill after withdrawing £11,200 from an Isa to pay into his pension. 

He received two charges, one for £1,500 and a second for £1,000. He has yet to settle the latter but HMRC has told him to pay even though its an erroneous bill.

“I was told I had to pay it anyway, and that they wouldn’t be able to look at my complaint letter until November. They said the system ‘didn’t like’ one-off payments, but it’s the tax office, surely they should be able to deal with something as simple as that,” he said.

The delay was put down to a shortage of staff to deal with the post, given the number of people working from home, Mr Anderson said. This is despite the Government’s work from home guidance coming to an end earlier this year.

Within three working days of this newspaper’s involvement, HMRC issued Mr Anderson an apology and said he would be receiving a repayment shortly. 

An HMRC spokesman said the issue had been caused by a manual error, but that 10 months was “not the norm” for these inquiries. He said: “We understand the frustrations of customers who have been waiting longer than normal for us to deal with their inquiry.”

In December, the Revenue said it was working through a backlog of post that “had built up over the past year”.

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