Accountancy body ICPA has disclosed that thousands of businesses, including many who are struggling financially through this economic downturn, are still waiting for tax refunds. The delays in issuing these refunds have taken so long that HMRC have been forced to issue a standard apology. They have stated that these delays are due to extra security checks that are being carried out by a specialist department in Bristol.
Tony Margaritelli, chairman of ICPA commented: “Refunds are taking an interminable amount of time. Many accountants are pretty unimpressed by the excuses – the general consensus is that the Government wants to hang on to the money as long as possible and has asked HMRC to drag its feet by delaying payments.
He continued, “What is most galling is that HMRC have been encouraging accountants to file self-assessment for clients because refunds are automated and should come through within days. They are sending many more claims for ‘scrutiny’ on a completely random basis. Last year the system worked reasonably smoothly, but this year payments that previously would come through in a matter of days are months overdue.”
Mr Margaritelli also said that these extra security checks raise serious questions about the processes used in previous years.
He said: “Everybody understands that there should be checks because the Exchequer shouldn’t give away money willy-nilly. But it is how they have gone about it that is puzzling – are they saying they’ve been lax in the past? It gives everyone the impression that last year HMRC paid significant refunds that weren’t due.”