Fewer than one in three of almost two million taxpayers who have received incorrectly dated self-assessment returns are to be told about the errors, the Inland Revenue admitted this week.
Tax experts fear widespread confusion among taxpayers who are already struggling to get to grips with the complexities of self-assessment.
The decision to inform only 495,000 of the 1.8 million people affected by the errors, they warn, will add to the problem and lead to even more taxpayers inadvertently supplying incorrect information.
ACCA tax officer Chas Roy-Chowdhury warned that many could be hit with fines and interest charges and issued a plea to the Revenue to impose such penalties with caution.
Officials were forced to admit to the errors last week after they were spotted by some of the Revenue’s own district tax offices.
The affected returns, which were recently issued for the tax year to 5 April 1999, contain date references to 1998, when the year in question should have been 1999.
The errors occur in three areas: on the back page of the core return, on page seven of the partnership part of the return and on a land and property supplement.
A Revenue spokeswoman this week said only those who had received the land and property supplement would be issued with replacement pages and explanatory letters as the other pages affected did not ask for date-sensitive information.
The gaffe is the latest in a succession of mistakes relating to the recently introduced self-assessment system. In January, the Inland Revenue sent out 800,000 misleading self-assessment tax statements.
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