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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Monday 3 April 2017

Revenue Loses Again

As we are about to enter a new tax year with bags of opportunities to fall out with Revenue & Customs, let us ponder how often they get it wrong.

Call Judge Richard James. He was the presiding tax tribunal judge in a case called Dr Ragini Pandey v Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs [2017] UKFTT 0216 (TC) whose reasons for allowing a challenge by the taxpayer have just been released.

"Well, here we go again." That's how he started his judgment in the case which was factually complicated and the minutia of which I need not bore you with. This was not the first time a tribunal judge's judgment had started with these words. They were used by a judge in a 2015 case about tax credits after there had been a series of such cases marked by a catalogue of errors committed by Revenue & Customs. In this latest case concerning income tax, Revenue & Customs had messed up and were severely criticised by Judge James.

The tribunal in the latest case cancelled a penalty which had been imposed by Revenue & Customs on a doctor which had omitted from the tax return required from her some of her earnings which had been subject to PAYE. The core ground for the cancellation was that the inaccuracies in the return did not amount to or lead to an understatement of the doctor's liability to pay tax. Without that, there could be no penalty as one of the conditions for imposing a penalty had not been met. You'll find chapter and verse in paragraph 1 to schedule 24 of the Finance Act 2007(available from Revenue & Customs and the waiting rooms of all good accountants' offices). 

One other thing. The successful doctor was late in putting in her appeal against the penalty. She had to ask the tribunal for an extension of time for doing so. Judge James indicated that the jurisdiction of the tribunal to grant more time for a late appeal was wider than Revenue & Customs say on the subject in their letters  and guidance to taxpayers.

Happy Returns.