HMRC has been told by a judge that its behaviour was “ridiculous” in relation to the case of a homeless man who was being pursued for around £1,600 in penalty fees for failing to file his tax returns on time.
The man is understood to have been without a permanent residence between 2014 and 2017, having been a self-employed electrician before that time.
Tax returns were not received by HMRC for over a year in relation to the man’s time as a self-employed professional but he sought to resolve the associated issues soon after finding a permanent place to live and a new job, according to a recent report in The Telegraph.
Reminders of the need to file tax returns for time spent self-employed were apparently being sent by HMRC to the man’s last known address, with the fees being asked for eventually amounting to some £1,600.
A tax tribunal assessing the matter reportedly took place in December 2018, with the individual involved insisting that his being homeless must surely qualify as “special circumstances” that would represent what HMRC can regard as an acceptable reason for filing tax returns late.
The judge in the case, Nicholas Aleksander, evidently agreed and found in the favour of the formerly homeless man, who is named in the court documents but not in The Telegraph’s recent report.
“HMRC’s decision to pursue this man for penalties in the circumstances of this appeal is a scandal,” the judge’s verdict is quoted as saying.
“For HMRC to expect a homeless person to keep HMRC up-to-date with their address is ridiculous – and just needs to be stated to show its absurdity.”
Commenting on the case, Phil Manley from the advisory firm DSW Tax Resolution, said: “This is yet another example of HMRC displaying a complete lack of compassion. They are clearly focused on ‘maximising revenue’ ahead of any values of fairness, justice or even the rule of law.
“This individual did not have a home, yet they expected him to own a workable computer. It’s truly staggering and a sign of a government department out of control.”