Taxman says sorry over wrongly sent reminders

INCOME Tax has apologised after issuing letters warning of £300 fines for outstanding returns – even though the forms have been submitted.

INCOME Tax has apologised after issuing letters warning of £300 fines for outstanding returns – even though the forms have been submitted.

The apology followed questions raised by concerned islanders who were surprised to receive the cautions – especially after the tax office announced recently that the penalty for late forms would be £100, plus £10 for each day after the deadline.

Marine engineer Charles Smith, 56, was forced to contact the office after receiving the letter, even though he submitted his return online in February. ‘I was shocked. I always try to do these things on time,’ he said.

Income Tax director Rob Gray (pictured) said £300 plus £50 per day was the statutory maximum penalty that could be imposed. He stressed, however, that initially the fine would stand at £100 and £10 when the regime was introduced this year.

He added that even though a tax return might have been submitted, if it was incomplete, it would not be considered as a proper return.

Comments for: "Taxman says sorry over wrongly sent reminders"

Dani

The tax office want to make the closure of the phonelines on Thursday permanent. They have stated to this to the local accountancy association and are asking their members for their views on the matter.

Guernsey Accountant

So how exactly are we supposed to know if a tax return is deemed 'complete' by the tax office (thus avoiding the penalty fee) if they are not able to process my tax return for the next 12 months?

It is ridiculous that they are asking Islanders to submit returns when they are so far behind.

I know people that have been waiting for a tax refund for 12 months and the tax office are still sitting on their cash.

Guernseyman

shambles, get the department in order and correct and then threaten those that actually haven't done their returns.

I pay tax

Whilst i understand Mr Gray's comments about an incomplete tax return, if this was submitted early enough and in normal circumstances the tax office would have told you, would it not be immoral for the tax office to try and levy a fine. Perhaps the first court case will be interesting.

Taxed 'orf

Within a few short weeks the Department will be flooded with thousands of returns for 2012; how on earth will they clear these when they have, apparently, some 7,000 outstanding from 2011. Many people will be due for refunds yet the Department will quite legally, if not morally, hang onto those funds until...when exactly? Fairs fair - if we are to be penalized for late returns the Department should be held to account for their inefficiencies. I mean, the number of returns is well known to them so they should be able to allocate appropriate resources to deal with that number.

bernie le messurier

Thankfully I don't pay tax even though I am obliged to and I have not filled in a tax form for 10 years now. Clowns will never get me. Cash in hand and online business rules man!

Dani

Just going to put it out there that they are also closed today. The 31st of December, a date a lot of people are told their tax must be paid by.

Mark

Just pay online? That's what I did.

Dani

Not everyone is comfortable doing that/computer literate. It is a good thing to point out though.

Local Resident

When they owe you money they sit on it, when you owe them they demand it from you in 7 days and if you don't pay it you get a penalty. How can this be legal?

Disgusting.

BLH

Try writing them a letter stating that you will charge interest on the money they are holding if its not paid within seven days and then if they dont pay for a while try sending them a bill and see what they say, you have a right to expect your money back in a reasonable time

David

Pay a decent salary to the admin staff and you will get people fit for purpose for the job..

Peter

Great, so now we have the Income Tax director giving us his interpretation of the tax law.

I wonder if his interpretation matches that of a qualified, practising tax lawyer?

I am interested to know if the law refers to submitting a return or having acknowledgement from the tax office of a "completed" return as these are 2 distinctly different animals.

I submitted my return on-line and the automatic response email from the tax office says:

"This e-mail is confirmation that you have successfully completed your on-line tax return".

Can't wait for the advocates to get involved if Mr Gray decided to penalise me!

Bob C Wilderbeast

"Deputies come and go" is the Civil Service mantra. How can the Deputies wield the power we invested in them.

How about firing some overpaid - underworked civil servants rather than allowing them to "move" departments.

Maybe it may provide encouragemant to get on with the job. Private sector workers are fired if they dont perform.

GM

Another example of a civil servant who seems incompetent to run the department of the States which collects a huge amount of revenue. Being knowledgeable about tax doesn't mean that somebody can manage a big team.

The local tax profession expressed major concerns about RG before he was appointed. It fell on deaf ears.

It will be interesting to hear Gavin St Pier's comments next year on any changes in the level of income tax receipts. The information will be nothing other than a guess.

I hear that one of the Big 4 accountancy firms approached Income Tax with an offer of help but was aggressively told to go away.

They have a massive problem and don't seem to be either capable of resolving it or desirous of resolving it.

Don't panic Mr Mainwaring? I would be.

Mike Brown - another mess for you to sort out, but how the hell has it been allowed to get into this state? As another poster has commented, they knew exactly how many returns they had to process and what they resources they required, so what's gone wrong?

Proper use of IT should enable what is a data processing department to handle much greater capacity with fewer staff. In the States of Guernsey it seems to have completely the opposite effect. Why? We deserve to be told.

How many staff do they have compared with 10 years ago? How many tax returns do they have to process compared with 10 years ago? How much has been spent on IT enhancements in that period? IT spending has either been wasted, or not enough has been spent on it. Either answer is an issue.

Seems to me like the Tax Office is being left to sort out its problems but one would hope that T&R are on top of sorting it out. Does anyone have confidence that the Tax Office is capable of resolving the problems?

As an aside, anybody who has submitted a return and is owed money should be compensated at exactly the same rate of interest that late payers get charged. It must work both ways, surely.

Just wait till FATCA and "son of FATCA" come in. The Tax Office's current workload will pale into insignificance.

Forest

GM I'm interested about the major concerns that the local tax profession had and obviously still have ref RG, can you expand?

GM

Just that there were major reservations about his ability to do the job in a competent manner, and that he was unapproachable.

Gsy

I don't think that attacking a persons ability to do the job is appropriate here.

GM

Gsy

Maybe not, but the proof of the pudding....just look at the disarray since the previous incumbent retired. How on earth has it got into this state?

islander

filling in your forms online is far easier than posting.Advantage of online is that your returns will not be accepted if incomplete.

Unfortually not everbody has this option and have to fill their forms and return by post.

Reasons for the big backlog is understaffing levels due to the finance private sector touting,maternity and paternity leave,sickness caused through stress.

Solutions-as many states departments are having to show strict budgeting which means their staffing levels need adjusting to surpluses.Offer these staff the oppotunity to transfer into income tax or make redundent.

The backlog of tax returns is the influx of inported labour and finance industry trying to dictate their returns of their financial year which does not corrospond from Jan -dec

Overtaxed returns which were completed online should therefore have been payed automatally and promptly.

To finish this comment a little story which is so true and frustrating is that a member of my family filled in their income for 2012 online and was accepted and telling this member that they were due an overtax sum of £200+

islander

the returns were filled in during November

Tacksman

Islander,

I think you have been misled ! How can your relative have filled in his total tax returns for 2012 in November ??? He couldn't have known what he was to earn in December and in any case, I doubt the 2012 returns page was available in November 2012 as the Tax department was still trying to collect the last few 2011 returns.

islander

Tackman

sorry it should have read year of charge 2011. a late return.

Stiletto

I am still waiting, despite reminders for an acknowledged tax rebate, due to me for 2011. I do not intend to complete a return until such monies are received. I expect not only to be paid this, but for accruing interest - pigs are not flying.

A.J.

This department seem to be able to default at will, incuring no penalty whereas we the public could be fined! what would happen I wonder if they lose even more staff? This person is not fit for purpose. And yes, I have allways paid my taxes on time.

Guernsey Girl

Whilst no one particularly likes it, the law is the law and fines are a necessity to get people who genuinely abuse the system to comply, they hapoen all over the world. Whilst it may be 'hypocritical' of the department, the system will be abused further if they are seen to back down just because they are understaffed and under pressure. The world as a whole is under massive pressure in the current climate and budgets are limited and everyone is feeling the strain. Income tax staff are human and have a tough job to do and are entitled to Christmas holidays like every other person in the island. Guernsey are in a better state than a lot of places and whilst things are not ideal there is always another side to the story. Sending reminders and threats of fines takes time, time that could be spent assessing returns so if they are completed in time, maybe the backlog can be cleared.

Gsy

It is a recession and there have been massive spending cuts across all public sectors so it is inevitable that there will be a level of disorder as services have to adjust to massive staff cuts. There is an element of fighting a losing battle and I don't think that becoming personal is beneficial

GM

Gay

Again, maybe not, but what is being done to address the problems other than not answering the phone for so many hours a week and sending out misguided letters which result in a public apology?

We are taxpayers for heaven's sake - we shouldn't be paying for inept public services which fall well short of an acceptable standard by any benchmark.

As usual, we get the "but they're doing their best" response, but if the management at the top levels is not up to it, then it won't get resolved.

Phil

"Massive spending cuts across all public sectors"??

I nearly fell off my chair at that particular beauty!!

Ex Tax Man

When Ken Forman retired as Administrator six years ago the Tax Office became a Treasury and Resources department and as a result they cut the budget of the department which resulted in staff not being replaced and having no budget for succession planning to replace those staff that were due to retire. As in any industry if you have a smaller budget to work with and less staff but the workload stays the same the service you provide will suffer.

I have recently spoken to a few ex colleages and they assure me that Rob Gray is doing a great job with the budget and resources he has been given.

I do not envy any states department in this time of crisis and people need to realise with the budget cuts the services provided will not be to the standard they have been in the past.

Guernsey Girl

Here here! Well said Ex Tax Man.

Island Wide Voting

Rob Gray has been here for at least 25 years so surely he is at least 10% local by now ?

Guernsey Girl

Island Wide Voting,

That comment could be construed as xenophobic

Island Wide Voting

Only by total dimwits

Michael R

Income Tax may be getting a few things wrong but they are paragons of virtue and efficiency compared with Social Security.

Just ask anybody who is self-employed.

Suggestions that the two departments merge just doesn't bear thinking about. The finance moaners really would have something to complain about then.

valeite

Oh please come on,efficiency and the law are two different things,I worked at the tax office for many years and was called all names under the sun, but I always said I do not make the laws, I am only doing my job, dont blame the staff at the social security for the inefficiencies in the law it is hardly their fault, they are trying to earn a living like everyone else. And no I have no gold plated pension.

PB FALLA

Its time to get rid of r gray

Bring Back Ken