Complaints deluge hits appeals process

More than 100,000 complaints against late tax-return fines issued byims bottleneck. the Inland Revenue have threatened to bring the general commissioners’ appeals procedure to a halt.

As the department began to sift through the mountain of claims, it also emerged the Revenue’s advertising budget this year will be slashed.

‘If these appeals go through, the whole system could clog up,’ said John Whiting, head of personal tax at Price Waterhouse. ‘We always warned this could happen.’

The Revenue could not say how many appeals will go forward to the commissioners.

But Accountancy Age understands the regional commissioners are preparing for a deluge.

Roger Fellows, the chairman of the commissioners, said he was expecting a 150% increase in the number of sittings. ‘We don’t really know how long it will take,’ he added.

Richard Shooter, chairman of the English ICA’s self-assessment monitoring group, appealed to the Revenue to be lenient, or risk presenting the commissioners with ‘a huge task’. He said: ‘The previous government promised a light touch. So far there is no indication that this will happen.’

The Revenue said the number of appeals – almost 15% of the 670,000 penalties issued – was ‘encouraging’. A spokesman added: ‘Substantially, the new system has been a success.’

He said there was no way of comparing the number of appeals with previous years. ‘The two systems are completely different – you aren’t comparing like with like.’

Tax experts were shocked by the Revenue’s admission it is slashing its ad spend for SA this year from #6m to just #3.5m.

‘The Revenue should accept last year’s campaign was not as good as it should have been and spend at least as much again this year,’ said Derek Allan, tax director at the Scottish ICA.

Shooter urged the Revenue to make its advertising more effective. ‘A number of people – accountants included – were worried and isolated by SA.

The Revenue needs to address these problems to restore the balance,’ he said.

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