In the final draft of the Finance Bill 2003, released last month, the Treasury stipulated – wrongly – that the basic rate of income tax was 20%. ‘… while the detailed explanation of the clause is correct and the bill itself is correct,’ an apologetic email from HM Treasury reads, ‘there is a simple typographical error in the background section of the explanatory note which puts the basic rate at 20% rather than the correct figure of 22%.’
Although the Revenue has now scotched the mistaken belief that the basic rate of tax was about to fall significantly, the gaff is the latest suffered by a clearly embattled Inland Revenue.
Already chastised for its handling of the new tax credit infrastructure and facing intense criticism over its treatment of husband and wife businesses, staff are said to be so downbeat, and stress levels so high, that industrial action has been rumoured.
Callers to the tax credit helpline have been forced to wait in line for hours, and accountants are up in arms after finding out their clients face a three month limit for backdating claims.
Things, it would seem, really could not get any worse.
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