The true cost of getting your tax refund wrong
19th April 2018
Every year, more and more people are getting back the cash they're owed by HMRC. With the taxman sitting on millions in unclaimed refunds each year, reclaiming what's yours can mean an average of over £3,000 for a 4-year claim.
The trouble is, just knowing you're owed a tax refund isn't enough to claim it safely. It takes a specialist to keep you in HMRC's good books. Lack of expertise, iffy advice and simple bad luck can derail your claim in a heartbeat, leaving you with painful penalties to deal with.
The more complex the work travel and expenses you're claiming for, the more likely you are to run into trouble. A simple, honest mistake (yours or HMRC's) can take months of stress to sort out. Even random spot-checks can trip you up badly if you aren't prepared and you can lose out on what’s yours if you aren’t able to show the right proof when HMRC comes knocking.
Suppose the taxman launches an enquiry into your claim. Without the know-how to prove every expense you've claimed for, you're looking at some serious headaches. A lot of people end up paying back their entire refunds, simply because they didn't have the hours, information or expertise to fight their corner.
Tackling an enquiry costs you valuable time and stress. You can spend months shuffling paperwork, sitting on phone queues and scrabbling for information from employers, government agencies or banks.
Of course, things get worse if HMRC suspects you're being less than completely honest. At that point, you're looking at losing more than just time and sleep over your claim. If the taxman finds an error on your return, for instance, he'll expect you to pay back the additional tax you owe. On top of that, you could end up facing:
- Penalties of 15%-30% for a careless expenses claim. You might be able to keep these low by being completely up-front with HMRC, but don't count on it.
- Daily interest on what you owe, based on the original deadline for paying up.
- Criminal proceedings if you're suspected of cheating the system.
Keep in mind that the mistakes don't even need to be yours to trip you up. Bad advice from non-specialist accountants or outright scammers are just as damaging. As well as coughing up the refund and penalties, you might well need a better-qualified specialist to sort out the mess for you. The best option, naturally, is to work with a specialist to begin with. With the right support, you can successfully prevent or appeal against HMRC enquiries – but that support really needs to be first-rate.
We protect around £1.3m per year by successfully fighting HMRC enquiries for our customers. Find out today how we can help you. We've been claiming tax rebates since 1999 and filing tax returns too. We know HMRC rules that the back of our hand.