The accountant told the Revenue he was relocating his business and the Revenue updated some of his clients’ tax records accordingly, but omitted to tell him that the records for those clients, who were employers, would need to be updated at individual tax offices.
In the resultant confusion, compounded by a mismatch between Revenue computer systems, communications went astray and some of the clients received penalty-warning notices, even though their end-of-year returns had been correctly submitted.
The bungle was revealed in the last annual report to parliament from retiring ombudsman Michael Buckley, who remarked that the accountant ‘was understandably frustrated, the more so when the Revenue’s letter of apology showed an incorrect address’.
Following the ombudsman’s intervention, the Revenue agreed that it had put the accountant to extra work, which he could not reasonably charge out to his clients.
The report said: ‘They understood his exasperation at their failure in what should have been a simple matter, and agreed to meet his additional costs in full.’
Buckley said he received 206 complaints against the Revenue during 2001/2002, a ‘slight decline’ compared with 214 the previous year because the number included 35 complaints related to the treatment of widowers who claimed entitlement to the same Bereavement Allowance as widows, an inquiry which has been delayed pending an appeal to the courts.
Complaints about delays included one in which the Revenue took five-and-a-half years so settle a complex capital gains matter; the Revenue apologised, waived £42,000 of interest they claimed was due and offered a conciliatory payment to meet reasonable costs arising from its mishandling of the case.
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