Complaints over HMRC ads thrown out

Two tax advisers have had their complaints about the taxman’s ‘hourglass’
self assessment tax filing TV ad thrown out by the Advertising Standards

The ASA would not uphold

complaints by a tax consultant and a chartered accountant

that the ad, which sees a screaming Adam Hart-Davies fall trhough an hourglass
warning the public to send in their SA returns by 31 January or get a £100
penalty, was misleading and used this fear to encourage filings before the date.

‘While we noted the complainants’ concern that not everyone who submitted a
late return would ultimately have to pay the full penalty, we considered that,
because the fine was automatically generated and applied in every circumstance
of late submission, there was no consumer detriment in alerting viewers to it,’
said an ASA statement.

The authority also found that the ad did not unduly create fear.

HM Revenue & Customs had argued in its defence to the claims that ‘clear
no-nonsense’ messages about the tax deadline were both expected and appreciated
by the public and its January campaign continued to improve perceptions of the

Further reading:

View the ASA’s adjudication

Advertising watchdog rules ICAEW ad ‘not

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