Yes, seriously, you did read that correctly! HMRC will consider refunding any reasonable costs directly caused by their mistakes or unreasonable delays. Costs can include postage, phone charges or professional fees. If you think HMRC’s actions have caused you worry or distress tell them straightaway. In some cases HMRC may be able to make a small payment to acknowledge this and apologise.
Our client had some pretty significant PAYE penalties and we appealed against these and successfully reduced the amounts due by 53%. The client was happy to pay the sum due and we issued the payment on his behalf. This was on the 17th February 2015. The cheque eventually cleared into HMRC’s bank account on the 11th March 2015.
On the 1st May 2015, HMRC then send four letters to our client demanding payment. The client opens his post and naturally becomes a little distressed. He contacts us, and we confirm that the payment cleared as described above and that we would have to call HMRC to find out what on earth was going on!
Our call to HMRC lasted 45 minutes, and they finally confirmed that the penalties had been paid and that there was no reason to send the demands for payment and that it must have been a mistake and it certainly was not a matter of information crossing in the post due to the date of payment being allocated and the date of issue on the subsequent letters.
All of this worrying, queuing on the phone, and discussing the matter and corresponding has had a time cost for us as a practice as well as the same, plus a degree of added personal stress, for our client and frankly it was entirely needless.
HMRC has a charter to abide by and where mistakes are made, reasonable compensation for costs and distress will be considered and we at Cooper Bradshaw take such mistakes very seriously as our clients should not have to bear the emotional and financial costs of silly, but avoidable, mistakes made by HM Revenue & Customs. Our letter,(obviously omitting sensitive material), is below.