08 Feb 2019
A plea has been made for the self-employed to receive an amnesty after a “calamitous” year for HM Revenue and Customs.
The Federation of Small Businesses is urging HMRC to exercise leniency towards sole traders who submit self-assessment returns late or incorrectly.
It added: "Over the past year, HMRC’s engagement with the self-employed has been dogged by inaccurate reminders and penalty notices, phishing e-mails, poor customer service and an unreliable tool for assessing employment status.
"The latest HMRC statistics show one in five callers to HMRC’s helpline are left waiting more than 10 minutes to speak to an adviser.
"As of the beginning of January, 5.5million taxpayers had yet to complete their self-assessment before the deadline which fell last Thursday.
"And HMRC plans to close more than 100 offices in the coming months."
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry described HMRC’s performance over the past year as "nothing short of calamitous".
He said: “The self-employed are being let down time and again by this increasingly ill-equipped agency.
"When considering action against sole traders who have struggled to complete returns, HMRC officials should have a good look in the mirror and consider their own shortcomings.
"They must remember that the self-employed are specialists injecting much-needed expertise and flexibility into our economy. The vast majority are not tax specialists – and they don’t have time for 'hold' music.
"Looking ahead, HMRC’s plans to downsize are cause for concern. It’s hard to envisage any improvement to its customer services off the back of so many office closures."
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