Tax refunds delayed by ‘clandestine’ system

Claiming a refund from the taxman can be a frustrating experience ­ even more
so when bureaucratic glitches contribute to some taxpayers being forced to wait
much longer than usual for their money.

The reason? Ramped up fraud screening is ‘unnecessarily’ disrupting the
claims system, claim advisers.

Some argue clients waiting for legitimate refunds are being treated unfairly,
and the behaviour could be a knock-on effect of the problems stemming from the
MPs expenses furore, according to John Cassidy, tax investigations partner at

Cassidy is warning clients that they may have to wait a long time to get
their refunds, as claims that are selected for manual security checks for fraud
are now being transferred to a new specialist unit in Bristol.

He describes this system as ‘somewhat clandestine’ and working against
law-abiding taxpayers.

‘I’d like to see some statistics on how many refund claims eventually prove
to be fraudulent. I expect the number will be miniscule,’ he says.

According to Mike Warburton, senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, one client
in line for a £30,000 refund waited eight weeks for the repayment. ‘We did
wonder whether the size of the repayment caused the delay…smaller repayments
seem to go through quicker. But why eight weeks?’ he asks.

Other point to HM Revenue & Customs’ well-documented efficiency programme
which has seen 3,500 staff redeployed to other government departments and a host
of tax offices closures for the delay.

Related reading