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Please help mental health and HMRC

(23 Posts)
help1111 Mon 13-May-19 17:02:49

NC I'm a regular user

I'm not sure if I'm here for a handhold or advice but here we go...

I've been an idiot and I know that. Back in 2014 I had a mental breakdown which ended up in a hospital stay following a suicide attempt. I had to give up work. Please bear with me if this is confused - my memory of this time is very patchy. My ex husband had the idea of registering me as a sole trader and doing some work from home. This never happened - the company never traded and 6 months or so later he de-registered me/ the company.

I think I remember a tax return coming through but I didn't really pay much notice - I was still struggling immensely with my mental health. Anyway we separated the next year and I moved address. I heard nothing more and forgot everything about it.

Move forward to the end of last year. I updated myself on the electoral register which I take it is where they 'found' me. I recived a letter advising I owed money in penalty fines. This is where I know I've been an idiot, but I ignored it. Just opening it took me right back to where I used to be and it was so easy to put it in that section of my mind and close the door. It's a disassociation thing I do to block out bad feelings.

So now I've received a letter with my revised tax code and the money owed is being taken out of my wages. It's nearly £15,000. This is for a company that's never ever traded.

I've just tried to call HMRC (I've taken the day off to big myself into it), but after 20 minutes on hold I'm a crying mess and I can't do it. I'm sitting here and it's all flooding back, the suicidal thoughts, I just want to go and get alcohol and drink and drink until I'm not thinking about this anymore.

They're open til 8 so I can try and pull myself together and call them again, but I think it's going to be pointless. I can't explain why I've buried my head in the sand. How I didn't know what I was doing when I signed up to be a sole trader, that I can't really remember most of it, I was literally just a few days out of hospital.

I'm not sure what I'm asking for here but I can't push through this. I can't afford to live with the amount this new tax code is taking. I can feel myself sinking again.

help1111 Mon 13-May-19 17:05:58

Just to add I also have huge anxiety using the phone, and there doesn't seem to be anyway of contacting them in writing.

PenguinsRabbits Mon 13-May-19 17:13:11

This is address for self assessment:

Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
United Kingdom

Maybe try writing there and explaining - if you didn't trade wouldn't have thought you owe anything. Put in your NI number and keep a copy.

niknac1 Mon 13-May-19 17:15:03

The debt is likely to be an estimated return if the actual return wasn’t submitted. You will need to speak to them and give them the details. Hopefully this will get sorted when you let them know the actual events.

Hemlock2013 Mon 13-May-19 17:16:19

Try not to panic. There will be so many more people like you who have registered on a whim and not traded.

They are generally very reasonable. Try to call again when you’ve calmed down. See what they say.

Also it may be worth hiring someone to deal with this on your behalf. Accountant or solicitor x

Keep us updated. You will be fine. X

help1111 Mon 13-May-19 17:21:29

Thanks you. Panicking is exactly what I am doing. I'm sitting her dry heaving into a towel.

I've been so well for the last few years, but I'm still learning to cope proportionately with stress. I can't believe it's come to this and what a fool I've been for ignoring the previous letter

bowchicawowwow Mon 13-May-19 17:30:15

I don't think that £15000 could actually be collected through your tax code. £15000 would be the figure used to actually collect £3000 at 20%

HMRC are actually sympathetic to things like this. Your starting point is to complete the tax returns for the outstanding years, declaring nil on the employment page relating to the directorship and then appeal the penalty charges if they still stand afterwards. Your mental health, hospitalisation then separationwill most likely be seen as a reasonable excuse.

BMW6 Mon 13-May-19 17:51:11

OP why not go to Citizens Advice Bureau and ask them to help you deal with this?

Hecateh Mon 13-May-19 17:57:25

Here is a link to Martin Lewis' Booklet advising about mental health issues and debt. It will tell you where you can get advice and support from.
You could also contact MIND I'm sure they have someone who will be able to support you in communicating with HMRC.
PS on the odd occasion I have had to talk to HMRC, it took ages to get through but the person on the other end couldn't have been more helpful.

crapcrap Mon 13-May-19 18:02:43

Not going to be much help here but I know what it's like burying your head in the sand.
It's scary and hard but you can get through it! Deep breaths. Write bullet points of what you need to say and just try to explain to the advisor as best you can.
Don't try to hold back tears, if you need to cry while you're on the phone- then cry.
Try to be brave, it will get sorted and you will feel so much better once it's done.
Good luck, you can do it x

help1111 Mon 13-May-19 18:03:08

The tax notice says: Less Outstanding Debt Restriction £14999, then £2499 to be added to your wages salary, salary or pension.

So think it might 'just' be £2499 which is still not good but at least I'm able to breathe again.

I just feel so stupid. And my mental health is so much better lately I'd feel like a fraud going through MIND. Citzens advice is an idea but will struggle to get more time off work after already taking today off.

Thank you for no-one (so far!) pointing out what an absolute idiot I've been for burying my head in the sand.

help1111 Mon 13-May-19 18:04:11

I'm going to have something to eat and try again this evening.

bobbieflekman Mon 13-May-19 18:22:07

I believe that HMRC have a vulnerable persons unit who may be able to help, especially if you can provide medical evidence. You will need to ring them though. Good luck, keep calm and explain everything and you should be able to get it sorted

VeniVidiViciTwice Mon 13-May-19 18:28:48

I have no advice with HMRC but other posters have given good advice.

What did stand out to me was that you said your ex set up in your name. Is this not fraudulent (on his part not you) and if so shouldn't he be liable for this debt? I have no experience but this just stood out to me, especially as you were in such a vulnerable place emotionally at the time.

WildFlower2019 Mon 13-May-19 18:32:54

From the TaxAid Charity:

Under the law, HMRC must make “reasonable adjustments” for a person with a “mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

You can read more on their website here:

Get in touch with TaxAid and they'll possibly be able to discuss this with hmrc for you.

Citizens Advice or StepChange will also be able to help you, I think. It's at least worth chatting with somebody from one of the three charities.

My mum has mental health issues and didn't file on time. She rang up and explained and they were very understanding and gave her an extension of two months, and didn't Give her any fine.

I deal with them from time to time as I'm self employed, as a PP says, they're always very nice on the phone.

Good luck. I know it doesn't feel like it right now but this is sort-out-able xxX

help1111 Mon 13-May-19 18:41:40

@VeniVidiViciTwice I have thought that but didn't want to include it here as it seemed a bit victim-cardy.
I remember talking about it. I don't remember who did the paperwork but that doesn't mean I didn't - it's honestly so patchy and I was on heavy duty medication, it's difficult to try and remember objectively (as in it would be the easiest thing in the world to blame him unfairly). But that doesn't take away that by around November last year I was definitely aware of it but just ignored it.

help1111 Mon 13-May-19 19:35:55

I just got through to someone then was cut off when being transferred. Give up.

BabyDueDecember2019 Mon 13-May-19 20:13:39

Do you have any RL support who could accompany you on the phone?thanks

PenguinsRabbits Mon 13-May-19 20:53:04

Is there an address on the letter? - I would just send them a letter, that address above was from a government website so should work too. Or could you get a friend/relative to phone and ask who can you e-mail. I have written to them in past, they are a bit slow on responding but do respond.

nerdsville Mon 13-May-19 22:31:05

bowchicawowwow has it spot on. That wording means you owe tax on £15k, so you owe £3k tax at basic rate, you don't owe £15k. To collect it, they're removing your £12.5k personal allowance and then adding the remaining £2.5k to your pay before they calculate your tax. Your new code should be K250 (the K bit is what signifies that they're adding stuff to your pay before calculating your tax).

As said above, they've calculated an estimated income because you didn't submit a return. This is fixable! You will need to submit the return that's missing, which will presumably show nil earnings, and once that is submitted they should cancel the estimated earnings or you may need to appeal the charge to get them to do so.

You can download the required form from the HMRC website for the relevant tax year, fill it in and send it off with a letter explaining the whole circumstances and requesting that they accept late filing and waive any charges due to your circumstances and vulnerability.

It may be that if you are still registered for self assessment etc then returns should have been submitted for all the tax years since 2014. The quickest way to find this out is to phone and ask, but if you're not able to do so then you can ask them in your letter.

You can authorise someone to speak to them on your behalf, but you need to phone them yourself in order to give this authorisation - you can literally just call to do this, they will make a note and then the person can call and get all the info for you.

This might make you feel better about the situation.. I once had a HMRC debt collector turn up at work saying we owed 30 grand. I'd recently taken over as Payroll Manager and my predecessor hadn't filed something so we got an estimated charge. I made one phone call, was told what to do, sent off the nil return that had been missed and got a letter a couple of weeks later saying all was fine and we didn't owe anything. HMRC honestly aren't evil, you just need to find out what paperwork they need, explain the circumstances honestly and ask them to help fix it.

babyno5 Mon 13-May-19 22:41:51

Please tell them what has happened. They will treat you fairly and sympathetically. Sending hugs as I know how hard this can be xxx

BabyDueDecember2019 Thu 16-May-19 12:30:16

How are you this week?

help1111 Wed 05-Jun-19 16:24:17

After a bit more burying head in sand I’ve taken tomorrow off, I think the best way is to go through Citizens Advice.

Can anyone tell me if you need an appointment? Can’t see any information on the website.

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