Here are the bare bones of four sets of real-life circumstances which may make you smile but which contain a serious message:
1 - From HMRC: “We know that we received your return. We acknowledge that we lost it and we’re sorry about that. However, if you send us a copy now that won’t be good enough; we will charge a penalty. You must sign a fresh return.”
2 - “We know that we received your return. We processed it but then lost it. We now need to see a copy of it. Please send us a copy or we will charge you a penalty.” This may sound outrageous but in the case of Wilson (SpC724) HMRC issued a summons to obtain from the taxpayer a copy of the return that HMRC had lost. The Special Commissioners awarded a penalty of £300 against the taxpayer for failing to provide a copy to replace the original which HMRC had lost.
3 - “We know that you delivered the return to (another) HMRC office on Friday 30 January. Unfortunately, our colleagues at the other office forgot to stamp the return before this was sent to us. Without a stamp there is no proof of the date of receipt. We have to treat this as a late return and we will charge you a penalty.”
4 - A company’s tax return together with the accounts and tax computation were hand-delivered to a tax office. The tax office retained one of the three documents, sent another to the company’s current tax office and the other to the company’s old tax office. All three tax offices then wrote to the company saying that it had failed to file its return correctly due to the absence of the other two documents.
With due credit to George Bull, head of tax at Baker Tilly, who included these in last week's Tax Brief