A couple of recent cases have highlighted to us at CheapAccounting.co.uk that HMRC are being rather less than forthcoming with tax refunds due to tax payers.

From time-to-time legitimate situations arise where the tax payer overpays tax; for example as a result of making payments on account against a decreasing annual tax liability.

Recently we have handled two cases on behalf of clients where HMRC have been withholding significant tax refunds due without good cause or reason; the amounts run into thousands of pounds.

In fact one case has gone on for months and we only managed to secure the refund after “threatening” HMRC with a complaint.

Personally I find this morally repugnant!

If HMRC find that a tax refund is due to a tax payer that refund should be paid to the taxpayer as soon as possible; just in the same way that we all have to pay our taxes in a timely manner.

Accepting of course that facts and figures do need to be checked; such checks need to be done speedily and the refund should be paid out in days & weeks rather than weeks and months.

What to do if HMRC hold onto your money

Our advice for how to handle HMRC when you think you are due a refund of tax is very simple:

  1. Check the facts & figures of your overpayment
  2. Write (don’t telephone) HMRC asking for the refund due; make the letter short and include the facts of how you have arrived at the refund due or a copy of the tax return(s) that the amount relates to
  3. Give HMRC 14 days to check the facts and figures and to issue the refund
  4. If they delay beyond this write back; give them 7 days to issue the refund and advise them that if it is not received a complaint will be opened
  5. If the refund is still not received do follow this up with a complaint; this is easy to do. HMRC explain their complaints process here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/complaints-appeals/how-to-complain/make-complaint.htm

Don’t be stalled by HMRC; whilst they may come over to you as being a scary beast they do, according to their Charter, need to act professionally and with integrity. Unfortunately we are beginning to see a trend of aggressive behaviour on their part with an unjustified moral high ground being taken by, luckily enough, a small minority of staff.

Of course HMRC have been targeted with collecting unpaid tax but I do think they need to remember than the vast majority of people do pay their taxes on time; in fact some overpay.


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Original blog and title posted by Elaine Clark of CheapAccounting.co.uk on the date at the top of the blog. All blogs are date and time stamped at the point of creation and publication.

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The copyright of these blogs belongs to Elaine Clark of CheapAccounting.co.uk and MUST NOT be reproduced without her express permission.

We are seeing numerous copies of our blogs appearing on the web sites and blogs. We’re afraid that it is now time for me to take a tough stance on breaches of my copyright!

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