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HMRC asks for taxpayer feedback on penalty application

Whilst most wags will simply say ‘don’t charge so much,’ the HMRC is asking for feedback on taxpayers as to how it can improve the penalty application process.

This is of course the perfect opportunity for Brits with an axe to grind against the taxman – individuals particularly hard-hit like contractors and freelancers – to finally be heard on how it can be a real pain to end up being slapped with fines for things like missed payment deadlines or failing to pay. In any event, HMRC says that it’s soliciting feedback from taxpayers until May 11, and that it has an eye to suss out ways to better deliver a heightened number of digital services to its ‘customers.’

The taxman says that it wants to create a tax system that works best in the digital modern world. Part of this, apparently, is to take an approach to penalties that lines up not just with behavioural science but technology as well. What in the world HMRC means by ‘behavioural science’ I’ve no idea whatsoever, but it sounds suspiciously like group psychology of the likes seen in dystopian novels like George Orwell’s 1984. Of course that might just be my paranoia rising out of nowhere – but then again, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not all out to get you, you know.

Still, the tax authority says it wants to see how it could differentiate between taxpayers who make an occasional mistake when it comes to paying their due and those who take a more deliberate approach to skipping deadlines or engaging in outright tax avoidance. For what it’s worth I would love to see HMRC institute some sort of rubric for those of us who simply let things get away from us by accident and professional-grade tax dodgers.  To the taxman’s credit, it did acknowledge that the lion’s share of Brits meet their tax obligations on time and in full, and that penalties only end up being applied to a small sliver of the population – but even in this case it wants to differentiate between those who just made an unfortunate error and those that are persistently and deliberately not complying with tax rules.

Now when you put it that way, it seems like a good idea doesn’t it?

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