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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.

It does seem strange to require a return even though you may have no obligation to notify chargeability (as no tax liability).

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.

pettyprudence Wed 30-Jan-13 20:32:39

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.

pettyprudence Wed 30-Jan-13 22:30:12

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!

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