To think HMRC shouldn't need two weeks to press a button that will prevent me from being fined, even though I won't owe any tax?

(49 Posts)
doobedoobedoo Wed 30-Jan-13 19:53:29

Because that is what is going to happen at 5pm tomorrow. sad

Two years ago I was offered a big piece of freelance work out of the blue, and had to pay tax for the first time in years. (I sold my soul to voluntary work more than a decade ago.)

Last year I did one tiny bit of work that came in from elsewhere as a result of that, and I earned the princely sum of £500. In November I called HMRC to ask whether I needed to file a tax return for such a small amount. Bloke said that as my income was under £2,500 I didn't need to file a return. He didn't ask any questions and a letter arrived a while later to confirm that I was no longer a taxpayer, provided I wasn't a company director, self-employed, various things.

Two weeks ago I was reading a newspaper article that suggested I was classed as self-employed and, no matter how small my income was, I had to file a tax return. There was a link for a questionnaire on the HMRC website and that decided that I was self-employed on 3 different counts.

I called HMRC immediately (14th Jan) to say that I had been advised wrongly in November, I needed to file a tax return, and had just tried to do so online, but I couldn't because it was showing up as having been "filed" on the date I was taken out of the system.

I was told that I could be put back on to self-assessment, but "the lead time for that department is 3 weeks, and they might not deal with it before the deadline"!!

I have been checking every day, but I still can't file the return and there is only one day left before the deadline. Unless there is a miracle tomorrow, I will be fined £100 and have to appeal against that, even though I don't owe a single penny in tax.

I am sooooooooooo utterly, totally, brassed off. angry

bumpybecky Wed 30-Jan-13 19:58:29

I think if you pay the tax you owe then they won't fine you, even if you've not got the return done. Seeing as how you don't owe them anything, I'd be tempted so see if it's possible to pay them a minimal sum like £1 and sort out the return when they get around to dealing with it.

There's more advice on the other tax return thread - good luck smile

bumpybecky Wed 30-Jan-13 19:59:39
doobedoobedoo Wed 30-Jan-13 20:06:20

Appreciate the link to the other thread, becky, but I was told quite categorically that even though I won't owe any tax at all, I will still get fined if I can't file my return by midnight on 31st January.

All I can do then is appeal, and the only "evidence" I have is to say that I spoke to X person on X date at X time. There was nothing more the advisor could do to help. No way of contacting the department with the 3 week delay.

Nothing. Nix. Null. sad

Bilbobagginstummy Wed 30-Jan-13 20:06:55

If they've not yet issued you with a notice to file a return then the deadline is 3 months after it was issued. Worth finding out whether your deadline would actually be 31 January in the circumstances.
www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa/deadlines-penalties.htm#2

It does seem strange to require a return even though you may have no obligation to notify chargeability (as no tax liability).
www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/salfmanual/salf210.htm

Tiggles Wed 30-Jan-13 20:09:03

I think this is the first year that they have brought in the £100 fine even if you don't owe tax. Seems awfully unfair though in your case sad

I realised 18 months ago that I should have been doing a tax return and had missed the 31st Jan deadline by months, I phoned them and they set it all up but gave me three months from when it was set up to file it before any fines would be imposed.

ThingummyBob Wed 30-Jan-13 20:13:44

Doobe, send a letter of appeal with what you have told us if you receive one. They can cancel penalties, and proably will in your situation.

Is the £500 the only taxable income you had tehat year or were you employed and earned over £7475 elsewhere?

doobedoobedoo Wed 30-Jan-13 20:19:19

Thank you for those links, bilbo, I will take a read of them in case there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Unfortunately I was issued with a notice to file a return because of my earnings the previous year, but after the conversation in November I assumed I was "below the radar" on such a tiny amount. It seems not. sad

The letter I got when I de-registered for SA says:

"Self-employment": You were self-employed for any part of the tax year.

I wish I'd never ventured back into the (paid) world of work. This is eating me and my time up. sad

doobedoobedoo Wed 30-Jan-13 20:25:25

x-post while I was typing, bob. Yes, five hundred whole pounds were my entire earnings for the whole bloody tax year. A few quid in interest on a savings account and a couple of pounds in share dividends.

WhoKnows, I think my problem is that I was already registered as a taxpayer. Having suddenly reappeared in the system after such a long absence, I needed to be squeaky clean, because they might wonder how I could earn £XX,000 one year and then disappear again.

And to think that there are multi-millionaires who get away with who bloody knows what. angry

Bilbobagginstummy Wed 30-Jan-13 20:28:03

Ah, you may be stuck then.

Though looking at your OP there seems to be some doubt as to whether you are self-employed. That may be a more fruitful line to take.

I failed to file 2 tax returns because for those 2 years I was not self employed when I called HMRC they specifically said that I could not be fined more than I owed. I did the returns (very late, as in years later) and the charges were eventually cancelled after a few weeks.

doobedoobedoo Wed 30-Jan-13 20:33:04

I wish, bilbo. <bangs head on desk>

The advisor I spoke to was clearly trying to push me down that route, and also spoke to a supervisor about it. She came back to ask if I was "sure" that I was self-employed, and I said that unfortunately, there was absolutely no doubt. I had done the online assessment thing over and over again.

I am sure that any individual human being at HMRC would exempt me from the system, but the trouble is that the same human being may not be the one who decides to come calling when Doobe claims to have earned nothing after earning £XX,000 out of the blue last year.

Bilbobagginstummy Wed 30-Jan-13 20:39:28

pettyprudence - the rules on penalties have changed since then. Now you get fined if you're late, even if there's no tax to pay.

Pixel Wed 30-Jan-13 20:48:58

I've just been looking at the website because I was shocked at the news that they can now fine you even if you owe no money or have paid money owed. The cheek of it!
Anyway there is a list of 'reasonable excuses' for late payment, one of which is late receipt of your online Activation Code, User ID or password even though you asked for them before the tax return deadline. Are you by any chance still waiting for any of those things or could you claim you haven't received them yet?

doobedoobedoo Wed 30-Jan-13 20:57:38

Sadly not, Pixel - I was registered for the last tax year. sad

I have been told that I should win the appeal, but it all seems to be paperwork upon paperwork, for me and HMRC.

No wonder none of them (allegedly) have time to answer the bloody phone or letters.

Disclaimer: I have had my calls answered instantly over the last few months, and all the people I have talked to have been really kind. Not always well-informed perhaps ... but they are doing a lousy job as well as they can.

PessaryPam Wed 30-Jan-13 20:59:46

They work by different rules, it's heads they win and tails you lose. That'll teach you to actually work and earn money.

HappyAsASandboy Wed 30-Jan-13 21:03:27

You should be able to win the appeal, especially if you have the date, time and advisor name of when you were told that you didn't need to fill in a return. HMRC can access the recording of the call so corroborate your appeal.

Pixel Wed 30-Jan-13 21:04:18

Oh shame sad.
It's awful isn't it. I had to register as self-employed because of a little bit of money earned doing outwork for a printing company. The stress of doing the tax return just wasn't worth it for the money I was getting. It made me feel ill.

doobedoobedoo Wed 30-Jan-13 21:21:19

pessarypam <That'll teach you to actually work and earn money.>

You are beyond belief. Did you not see the statement I made in my first post?

(I sold my soul to voluntary work more than a decade ago.)

I have given almost 30 hours each week to the voluntary sector for more than 10 years.

To everyone else who is trying to help, thank you. I am still trying to find some way out of this nightmare.

PatsysPyjamas Wed 30-Jan-13 21:27:12

I was fined £100 a couple of years ago. It was my own fault, but a genuine mistake (I hadn't declared myself self-employed with the right department, but I had told the tax credits office, so it's not like I was trying to hide anything). Anyway, they were pretty nice about it and agreed to write off the fine when I rang them to explain.

It used to be the case that the fine was waived if you owed less than £100 (Dh used to routinely miss doing his till months later and because he never owed more than a couple of pounds it got waived). However the fine is supposed to be applied regardless of how much you owe now. I haven't really got any more advice I'm afraid Doobe but I wish you luck in getting it sorted and avoiding fines.

LadyWidmerpool Wed 30-Jan-13 22:08:00

I think pessary was joking TBH.

IamMummyhearmeROAR Wed 30-Jan-13 22:15:37

Yup not seeing what Pessary said that was so wrong. I'm sure she was being sarcastic about how difficult earning an honest penny can be because of crazy regulations.

Urgh will make sure my next years return is done promptly as I am actually self employed this year. £100???? Can we not charge them for the bloody hours it takes to do the stupid thing?

DH got charges for not doing returns even though he notified them SEVERAL times that he was no longer self employed, as instructed by tem. We have been told by HMRC that he might never be unregistered and this is perfectly normal shock!

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 07:54:08

Sorry, *pessarypam". Major sense of humour failure here caused by the stress of all this.

If I don't reappear today, you know where I am - on the HMRC site, repeatedly pressing the refresh button in the hope of being able to file the return in time. sad

prudence, unbelievable, and yet perfectly believable. I am worried that I may never escape from the system ever again now. I am having to keep records of every single payment I receive, all of which are completely legitimate, but could be construed as earned income by some autamaton.

SneakyNuts Thu 31-Jan-13 15:25:29

I earn £3000 according to DP's books, but I don't have to file a tax return..?

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 16:14:33

That's because he is "employing" you - I am considered to be self-employed.

My account is still blocked with 50 minutes to go. Bastards.

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Thu 31-Jan-13 16:32:00

could anyone print you off a blank form that you could fill in and fax to them?

Paper ones have to be done by 31st October so they probably wouldn't accept a fax today.

FloatyBeatie Thu 31-Jan-13 16:45:19

I'm almost certain you won't have to pay the fine. And the appeal is very simple, I think. Just a very quick form.

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 17:51:23

Yes, if I fill out a paper form now I would definitely get a fine, and have to pay even more because it would be more than 3 months overdue! They have more ways to fleece you than a hundred bloody sheep shearers. angry

Floaty, I was told I would definitely get a fine. Mind you, I was told I could opt out of self assessment as well, which is how I landed in this mess! And there is a risk that I won't win an appeal because they could easily say that I should have checked my employment status earlier.

I have no records of any of the earlier conversations, and all I have from the most recent one is the name of the person I spoke to and the date/time of the call. I asked for written confirmation of what she had told me, and she said "We don't have a letter that covers that". Grrrr .....

It's the sheer frustration that is getting to me. I have all the figures at my fingertips, I have actually completed the paper form so that I could get the online one done double-quick if my account was unblocked.

I would place a bet that my account will be unblocked tomorrow, once the fine has been levied.

ThingummyBob Thu 31-Jan-13 19:07:34

Doobe, can I help? You have until midnight you know, but I'm not sure I understand why you can't file confused

Do you have a log in and password? Also, please don't worry about a fine. If you genuinely can't file they will waive the penalty on appeal.

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Thu 31-Jan-13 19:17:03

its such a bugger when you are actually trying to be honest. hope it unlocks in time.

Avago Thu 31-Jan-13 19:22:15

Probably stating the obvious but are remembering the tax year is April 2011/12 ie if you did your work after April 6th 2012 you need to file by 31 Jan 2014.
I've managed to get a let off a fine for not filing a partnership return because they sent the form 2 years after we told them we'd folded.

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 19:41:59

You are very kind, Bob, but I think the only people who could have helped are the ones who can press the buttons at HMRC. I'll try to explain!

In late October I was told over the phone that I didn't need to file a return because my earnings were so tiny, below the limit of £2,500. The letter I received listed some exceptions, one of which was self-employment. I ignored that because I didn't really feel very "self-employed"!! Someone rang me and offered me £500-worth of work. They found me, not the other way round.

Two weeks ago I realised that, as far as HMRC are concerned, I am quite definitely defined as self-employed on 3 different counts, on their employment status checker. Panicked, called them and was told about the 3 week lead time to put me back into SA, which takes us to Feb 4th. (Ho, yes, 2 working days after the deadline ... very convenient ... hmm)

When I log in to the system, it shows my tax return as having been "filed" on 8th November, the date I was taken out of SA, but because there is no return I can't even edit a blank return! I also can't submit a new one because the system currently thinks I have done my duty by filing a return on 8th Nov, and the return appears to be a closed file.

You are right, Eccles, I am too bloody honest for my own good. I should have left things as they were. If HMRC came looking for me because I had earned for one year and then nothing the next, I guess that with proof that my earnings were only £500, they would probably have had no interest in pursuing me.

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 19:43:24

x-post, Avago.

The work was done in January 2012.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 31-Jan-13 19:49:23

OP
The deadline for submitting a return is 31st January
OR
within three months of being issued with a return.

If HMRC decided in November that you did not need to do a return (they will have a log of the call if you can say what time from your phone bill) then your clock starts ticking from the date they bring your account back live.
Especially if you owe no tax.
Take screenshots of the HMRC page now
And if they try to fine you, point out that as of NOW their system shows you not owing a return.

FloatyBeatie Thu 31-Jan-13 20:06:38

Re my earlier post, OP, what I meant was if you are fined, you will almost certainly have the fine cancelled on appeal. I was late once (with no excuse, unlike you), was fined and then had fine cancelled because that year I hadn't earned enough to pay tax

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 20:22:06

TalkinPeace2, I think I love you!!!!! Please have wine, take flowers, chocolate, anything!! The tab is on me. smile

For the first time in two weeks I feel that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have taken a screenshot, but I have just noticed that it says "Information as at 29 January 2013". That was after logging in an hour ago.

I had been logged out of HMRC, and now I have logged in again and it says "Information as at 30 January 2013".

I am now worrying that they have put me back into SA and that I am looking in the wrong place to submit my return! (I admit I am in a total state of fuzzle now ...)

I can't access "Tax Return Options" any longer - when I click on it, nothing happens, and I assume the system is going into the usual meltdown?

This is what I am seeing at present:

^*Tax year ending 05 Apr 2012.*

Issued on:06 Apr 2012
File on paper by:08 Nov 2012
File online by:31 Jan 2013
Submitted on:
Received on:08 Nov 2012^

There is nothing I can click on there, no links or anything saying "edit". It has looked like that since November.

Gaaaaaah!!!!!

I just tried a few more options on the LH menu to see if they would open, and when I clicked on "Ask a Question", I got this message:

Please note: Currently this service is only available to Self Assessment users.

I was able to access it two weeks ago because I initially sent them a message about whether I was self-employed or not. At that time I wasn't in SA.

I officially declare myself to be on the brink of lunacy. confused

Can anyone else see if they can access the LH menu options. Pleeeeeeeaaaaaasssse!!

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 20:25:28

Italics fail.

Thanks, Floaty.

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 20:35:05

OK, the "Ask a Question" section is back for me, so I assume it is just meltdown causing most of the trouble.

Still can't get at Tax Return Options though. confused

TalkinPeace2 Thu 31-Jan-13 20:42:47

The no fine greater than what you owe rule went out two years ago.

Tonight the whole system will nearly be in meltdown.

If you have a screenshot saying submitted, sit tight.

here is the manual page you need to send them back to if it comes to it
www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/sammanual/SAM61050.htm

doobedoobedoo Thu 31-Jan-13 20:51:38

Thank you again, TP2. More wine, more flowers.

Am sending you a quick PM - hope you don't mind? Ignore me if you do!

PessaryPam Fri 01-Feb-13 09:56:04

Its OK doobedoobedoo, sometimes things get lost when there is only text. I did of course mean that the systems seem to be set up to stop people working rather than helping, and the government also seems to be able to assume we are all guilty unless we can prove otherwise.

BarredfromhavingStella Fri 01-Feb-13 10:02:36

You'll just need to appeal if you get a penalty, explain situation & state date you contacted HMRC & received the incorrect advice-this should tally up with when they put through the nil return & they'll cancel the penalty.

doobedoobedoo Fri 01-Feb-13 12:06:23

Thanks, Pam.

I have found the date I contacted HMRC on my phone bill. Interestingly I note that they weren't working to a 3 week lead time for taking people out of self-assessment. They managed to do that in less than two weeks.

My account is still blocked.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Fri 01-Feb-13 12:12:49

I'm still waiting to receive login details. I did receive an email on Sunday telling me that the last date for filling it in online was the 15th Feb but I'd have to pay any tax owing by the 31st Jan. confused Sounds like they don't know what the hell they are doing.

DoJo Fri 01-Feb-13 17:35:49

Last year I couldn't file on time because my "unique" reference number was the same as someone else's. I was fuming as I was already to file before going on maternity leave, and ended up doing it a couple of weeks late. I wrote a note in the 'any other information section' and wasn't issued with a fine, so it might be worth trying that when you can finally file.

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