Islanders left frustrated by tax ‘nonsense’

LONG queues of exasperated islanders blocked the stairs of Edward T Wheadon House for a second day yesterday, as the States of Guernsey stayed silent about what caused thousands of ‘tax bombshell’ letters to be sent out.

Edward T Wheadon House. (29437075)
Edward T Wheadon House. (29437075)

More than 5,000 islanders were slapped with £200 fines on Friday without receiving prior notice – a change on previous policy. Until this year, islanders would have been sent a warning letter that they were late submitting returns and risked a penalty.

Some facing fines said they had already submitted their returns and it remains unclear why the penalty letters were sent incorrectly.

A number of islanders who queued for more than two hours yesterday left with only paper copies of the 2019 tax return form. Many decided to post £200 to cover their fines to avoid waiting, or started to queue but had to return to work and so left.

Healthcare worker Amira Nepomuceno said: ‘I explained my reasons for not filling it – I didn’t know that we had to file it yourself, and we didn’t receive any warning. In the Philippines your company does it for you. I applied for an appeal. It’s a lot of money to pay for ordinary people like us. There’s a long queue upstairs. It took two hours for me – it’s my day off and I was there from 10am this morning.’

One woman queued for an hour and a half. ‘I’ve been in there – don’t ask me...’, she said. ‘I’ve never come across such nonsense. This is Guernsey, isn’t it? Times have changed.’

One man said he waited for about an hour on behalf of his mother in hospital.

Staff came downstairs to help two women using a crutch and cane, but others with mobility issues had to scale the many stairs because the lift was out of action.

Tax officials hoped the 2020 tax returns would finally be issued by late April, but no confirmation was forthcoming yesterday on this or what the possible eventual deadline could be. Ordinary returns are issued in January, with a 30 November deadline.

Requests for comment on the problems and what was being done to rectify them went unanswered yesterday.

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