HMRC apologises over erroneous £1bn bill

by Calum Fuller

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29 May 2013

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HMRC building

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."

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