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Are the tax services going soft?

It has been revealed that more than half of taxpayers who complained about penalties for late tax returns have had their fines reduced or cancelled. Figures released by HM Revenue and Customs show that between 1 April 2009 and 31 December 2009 a total of 21,000 taxpayers disputed fines issued by the department. Around 80% of these were disputing fines for late payment and more than half had their fines cancelled or reduced after producing evidence to support their claim.

There are a number of reasons why fines issued as a consequence of late tax returns can be amended which include the death of a partner, documents lost through fire or theft and a life-threatening illness although the number of fines adjusted does seem to be rather high compared to years gone by. The UK government has spent millions upon millions of pounds on a new online tax return system which appears to be on the whole working very well. However, many taxpayers still missed the deadline despite the numerous adverts in the press and on the TV.

There is no doubt that the online tax return system is proving very popular as taxpayers have a number of extra months to provide the information required, compared to those who use the paper system.

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