TAX collectors were accused of “systemic” failures yesterday after they threatened nearly a million workers who are not required to file tax returns with fines for submitting them late.
Some 963,000 taxpayers were found by HM Revenue and Customs to be unnecessarily registered in the self-assessment system in the past two years.
They had not submitted returns for three years but were still pursued for £100-a-year fines which are levied on people who report their earnings to HMRC up to three months late.
HMRC stressed that those concerned had been taken out of the system, and that none had paid any fines after they were identified as not needing to complete Self-Assessment forms, perhaps because they now had jobs that paid their tax automatically, through the pay-as-you-earn system.
But critics said the scale of the error pointed to serious underlying problems.
Frank Askew of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales said it suggested “systemic problems with the taxpayer records that need to be addressed”.