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Problems expected with HMRC’s new ‘simple assessment’ process

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Problems expected with HMRC’s new ‘simple assessment’ process

A number of tax and accounting bodies have warned that HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) new simple assessment process will result in a catalogue of coding errors and other complications.

It is estimated that approximately 400,000 UK taxpayers will receive one of HMRC’s new simple assessment forms between now and Christmas.

HMRC says that “millions will benefit” from the new forms, which come as part of its new system for self-assessment taxpayers, which is currently being rolled out for new state pensioners with incomes above £11,500 and PAYE taxpayers.

In short, HMRC will send taxpayers a letter featuring a tax calculation based on existing information.

The letter will include details of the individual’s income from pay, pensions, benefits and savings interest, which the recipients will be expected to read through and check before agreeing to pay their bill.

But tax and accountancy groups have voiced concerns that the new system will not work as smoothly as HMRC hopes.

Caroline Miskin, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), has warned that “coding” errors will be inevitable.

She said that problems were likely arise in instances where individuals had been underpaid, were self-employed or had changed careers.

Under the current system, HMRC can simply “code out” such underpayments or errors, allowing taxpayers to pay a little bit extra on a monthly basis until the bill is cleared, she said.

Ms Miskin also warned that taxpayers should not see the move as a massive change – particularly as HMRC has not intended for simple assessment to completely replace the annual tax return.

“Yes, it’s very important that they check the detail and ensure the figures are right, but that applies in any tax situation,” she said.

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