You would think that pensioners could have the luxury of putting their feet up and relaxing once retired. It doesn’t appear to happen that way though.
A recent story by a national newspaper said that 1.7 million pensioners are being forced to fill in a self assessment tax form every year, despite the fact that many of them have not been working for years.
This is highlighted by the fact that 275,000 are over the age of 80, and for some, it’s been nearly 20 years since they last clocked in or ran their own business. Say the words “gig economy” to your average 80 year old and they probably won’t know what you are talking about. .
There are many campaigners out there who claim it is pure “madness” that these pensioners are still having to send off their tax return in the post. For some retirees, it takes hours to get it all right, and some make mistakes that results in fines and penalties.
Take the story of Anne Funnell, aged 83, as an example. She has been doing self assessment for years even though she hasn’t actually worked for an employer in a long time. Unfortunately, it seems she ticked the wrong box on a recent tax return form, which resulted in HMRC sending her a letter which demanded payment.
£5,541 to be exact, which HMRC say is for unpaid National Insurance contributions from between the years of 1978 and 1994.
According to Anne, the letter she received got straight to the point and was not exactly friendly in tone, with demands for “immediate payment” and talk of losing her state pension and benefits if she didn’t send in a cheque.
It was also mentioned that a debt collection agency would be called in if the matter was not resolved.
Who knows exactly what has gone on here, but it does highlight the fact that everybody should hire an accountant to do their tax return and get everything right, even if you are 83 years of age.
All of the 1.7 million pensioners should contact an accountant immediately if you ask me, because the last thing you want is a bill for £5,541 arriving in the post.
A good accountant would make sure the “wrong box” was not accidentally ticked and that the confusing self assessment forms were filled in correctly and on time.
Steve Webb, who is the former pensions minister agrees, and has recently gone on record to question whether or not pensioners should even be taking on the often complicated task of filling in a tax return.
“In very many cases we are talking about very small amounts of money,” he commented, “you are putting people later in life through huge amounts of hassle and stress.”
I don’t think anything is going to change soon though, and this means that nearly 2 million pensioners will have to keep filling in those tax returns.