Numbers Background

New research by UHY Hacker Young reveals nearly 20,000 individuals and businesses were hit with the harshest possible fines by HMRC in 2019, due to what the tax authority says were deliberate mistakes.

This research found that these penalties were levied on a total of 19,657 people and companies for mistakes made on their tax returns. The maximum fines are imposed on those that HMRC thinks have deliberately included erroneous information in a bid to pay less tax, and they can add up to anything from 20% of the tax owed to the full amount.

In total, 31,513 fines of some degree of severity were received because of errors. This is lower than it has been in previous years, with UHY Hacker Young suggesting that this could be down to the success of the lengthy campaign to address tax avoidance and evasion.

The majority of all lesser fines imposed last year – 72% – were for not taking what HMRC calls ‘reasonable care’. Making Tax Digital may have cut the number of accidental mistakes because it means more returns are submitted using HMRC’s online system.

Despite the overall fall in the number of fines imposed last year, there are concerns that the authority will try to recoup some of the COVID-19 public spending by applying penalties harshly next year, like it did back in 2008. Using a professional accountant offering tax return services in Goole or another area is one way that people can reduce the risk of fines.

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