HM REVENUE & CUSTOMS has been forced to apologise to the owner of a Greater Manchester café after mistakenly sending it a tax demand of £1bn.
Florence Coke, owner of Mamma Flo’s in Gorton, received a tax bill of £979,092,858 in March.
HMRC said the bill was sent in error, adding they have since sent a corrected bill and apologised to Coke.
“When I realised it was nearly £1bn I nearly fell over in the kitchen. I don’t even make a wage,” she told the BBC.
She added that the original bill for VAT had a “threatening” tone, stating HMRC could seize her assets and sell them at auction or arrange for a debt collection agency to collect payment.
“I was so worried they would come and take all my stuff,” Coke said. “I work 150 hours a week and I put everything I have into the cafe.”
A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We are very sorry to hear of the problems our customer has had. We can’t comment on individual cases but have already contacted her to apologise and put matters right.”
Phillip Gershuny, senior tax partner at Hogan Lovells, outlines how a European exit could affect UK taxes
London accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg warns of potential damages VAT changes could cause UK businesses
Two PwC whistleblowers and journalist to stand trial over alleged leaking of corporate tax documents
Governmental pressure to crack down on tax evasion is resulting in HMRC applying its criminal investigation policy in an inconsistent manner, writes Kingsley Napley's David Sleight