HMRC reaches out to higher rate taxpayers
Pensioners should come forward to take advantage of a tax amnesty or they could face heavy penalties, a statement from HM Revenue & Customs has warned.
HMRC launched a campaign last week to offer higher rate taxpayers a time-limited opportunity to pay up under their Tax Return Initiative.
The initiative is aimed specifically at people liable to pay tax at rates of 40 per cent and above who have been told to submit a self-assessment tax return for 2009/2010 or earlier and failed to do so, although the campaign is also available to anyone who has tax returns to submit for this period. Those affected could include pensioners. If their income is above a certain level, their age-related allowance is reduced and they may need to fill in a tax return.
Reduced penalties and improved terms are available until for those who take part in the initiative, and pay the contributions they owe by the deadline of 2 October. Penalties of up to 100 per cent of the tax due and a criminal investigation could follow non-payment.
However, Alistair Cunningham, director of Surrey-based Wingate Financial Planning, disagreed with the principle of the amnesty. He said: “I understand why HMRC would offer an amnesty for the likes of offshore accounts, but it should be able to access quite easily who has not paid these self-assessment tax bills.
“It should be straightforward to chase the tax up without having to offer an amnesty. The rules are clear. Maybe HMRC is doing it because it is short of manpower.”