Thursday, 2 July 2015

Professional firm targeted by fraudsters

Recently I heard a worrying tale from a partner in a firm of accountants, who shall of course remain anonymous.

Apparently fraudsters had hacked into their computer network and submitted entirely bogus personal Tax Returns on behalf of actual clients of the firm. All these false Returns resulted in substantial tax repayments which were directed to bank accounts controlled by the crooks.

HMRC had spotted the frauds, although I am not sure how much money was wrongly paid to the villains.

It is a lesson to all of us not to be complacent about Trojan horses and clicking on links in dodgy emails (which is apparently what let these guys in). If we are caught out it could be hugely damaging to our firms' reputations, and result in the loss of the clients whose privacy has been violated. Also, we would be patsies in allowing the tax to be stolen from the Treasury, which is the same as if it was taken from our collective selves.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Unintended consequences

One of my clients called me in a panic. She had received a "threatening notice" from HMRC saying that she would be fined £100 for not sending in her Tax Return. Actually, I submitted her return for 2014-15 on 11th May 2015.

Hers is always one of the first I do each year. Why? Because she is ninety-five years old and does not like anything hanging over her.

Obviously I was very puzzled about the threatening letter. It turns out this was her Notice to File a return. Normally one would expect these to be posted in April, but due to the HMRC contract with Royal Mail they are still trickling through; hence my client's was received on 1st July.

Not everyone can immediately understand that some letters from Officialdom are due to inefficiency and incompetence, and therefore some people take these letters seriously, especially vulnerable people.

Surely we can hope that next year all Notices to File are sent out in April and that taxpayers receiving them will not feel threatened? My ninety-five year-old was in a tail-spin and could scarcely catch her breath. Government contracts with Royal Mail should not cause such distress.