This guest blog comes from our accountant and resident tax expert, Michael Bennett of Michael B. Bennett Ltd.
Over the last few months there have been two things coming through to me on a too-regular basis. The first is an HMRC problem and the second is a problem pretending to be HMRC.
The first one is where you are due a refund from HMRC. There have been a few times where my clients have received less of a refund than I have calculated. This leads me to telephone HMRC to ask for an explanation of the discrepancy. On more than one occasion the answer has been that there is a ‘known error in the system’ whereby it is ‘creating underpaid tax owed from earlier years and deducting this from the refund’. In each case, as soon as I raise the question, the officer at HMRC corrects their system and removes the underpayment. They tell me there is ‘no way of knowing which tax payers are affected’, by this issue, and that they rely on either the tax payer or their agent to call them to correct the position.
On a more sinister note, several of my clients have received telephone calls purporting to be from HMRC threatening “dire consequences” if the “tax owing” is not settled immediately over the phone by credit or debit card. Sometimes this may even be a message left on voicemail with a telephone number to call back. These are definitely not real calls from HMRC and under no circumstances should you give card details. In fact, something to be aware of is that HMRC will no longer accept payment using personal credit cards, so that could be another indication that you are being scammed. If you get one of these calls, my advice is either (a) tell them to discuss it with your accountant or (b) offer to call them back; if you do the latter, do not use whatever number they give you, but instead, call 0300 200 3822.
Michael B Bennett FCCA