The new tax credits came into force last year and the deadline to file the forms necessary to receive them fell on 6 April.
Accountants have reacted furiously since it emerged last month that they had only three months to backdate clients’ tax credit claims, striking fears that they could be sued if they were unable to do so in time.
Hopes that the Revenue would reverse its decision appeared to be extinguished this week after officials told Accountancy Age there were no plans to extend the backdating deadline beyond three months.
‘We have ruled out moving the existing deadline,’ a spokesman said. ‘We started advertising the tax credits last year and we maximised the media campaign towards September. We think people had plenty of time to file the tax returns.’
The spokesman added that those who had filed the returns in January – ‘under three million people’ – would now receive their payments soon.
He admitted that the Revenue was ‘busier now in the last week or two’, because it was the beginning of the tax year. He added that 700 extra staff had been temporarily hired.
Tax experts said the Revenue was caught unprepared and did not expect the volume of response from the self-employed. As a result, the helpline has been jammed and frantic accountants have not been able to get through to receive the information they need.
In a Commons statement on Monday, the paymaster general said the Revenue had received more than four million applications and that ‘at its peak, the helpline was receiving nearly two million calls a day’.
The Federation of Small Businesses as well as the Society of Professional Accountants are lobbying the government for an extension.
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