Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
Ms J.G. writes: In 2016, I set up my own limited company and used an accountant to complete tax returns. In December 2018, I paid corporation tax of £2,133 as well as my own personal tax, but I realised the costs associated with a limited company were high in relation to the amount I was expecting to earn so with the help of my accountant, I closed the company in March last year.
Final corporation tax due stood at £2,232 and I have tried repeatedly to pay this, but now the company is closed, the Revenue just does not accept it.
First budget: The new Chancellor Rishi Sunak
This really does come under the heading of ‘You Just Couldn’t Make It Up!’ A taxpayer fighting with the Revenue, not to pay no tax or less tax, but pleading to be allowed to hand over £2,232.
With the brand new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, just days away from unveiling his first Budget, you might think that every penny would count, and a couple of thousand pounds would count even more. Not so, apparently.
What really counts, it seems, is getting your company’s tax reference right, and since the company no longer exists, neither does its reference number. Even after I alerted officials at the Revenue head office, things did not go smoothly. A letter from the taxman told you that ‘as the company has been dissolved, there is no longer an entity to chase for the debt’.
The letter explained: ‘Normally, HMRC would object to the company being dissolved, so the debt could be enforced on the directors. This did not happen in this case. As you are no longer a director, HMRC cannot legally enforce the debt.’
But there was nothing to thank you for offering to pay the tax, and to avoid the need for any enforcement action at all. And the use of the word ‘debt’ left you concerned that somehow a black mark might end up on your personal credit file.
Officials were quick to assure me that there was no risk to you personally or to your credit rating. Last Wednesday, they told me: ‘We will be in touch with Ms G to explain how she can make the payment. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused.’
An hour later, you received a call from a rather irritated Revenue officer who asked you to tell her what the problem was. You did, and she then agreed to accept the £2,232 but she also wanted £11 interest for late payment. You flatly refused to pay the interest, and last Thursday your bank transferred the tax payment to the Revenue’s account.
Strictly speaking, the tax debt was not yours. You were being more than honest in taking on the moral obligation to pay it. But if the irritated officer gets back to you for the £11 interest, do let me know. This would make it even harder to believe.
BT cut me off… after 50 years
D.E. writes: After being a BT customer for 50 years, I received an email to say another customer wanted my line and number, and asking if this was acceptable. I said no, and BT told me it was all a mistake. But a week later I received a letter asking me again. I said no again, and BT said it was a mistake. But a few days later my phone was cut off, along with my broadband, BT Sport and Eurosport. I rang BT on my mobile and they said it would take more than a fortnight to reconnect me, and then they demanded £142, saying I had broken my contract.
BT cut off our reader, who had been a customer for 50 years, but after our intervention it restored all their services and awarded them £200
After I contacted BT, it said it would reconnect your phone urgently. It gave you a different phone number, but no broadband or other services. And you received a confusing flurry of messages promising service or calls on different dates, not all of which happened. Worst of all, quite unbelievably, one letter from BT told you that someone else was moving into your home and wanted your phone.
Behind all this mess was not BT itself, but the John Lewis Partnership (JLP). It told BT one of its customers was moving to your address and wanted the phone. You managed to stop the first two applications but when JLP applied again, it sneaked through. BT cut off your phone and because you were under contract, it billed you for £142.
JLP told me: ‘Due to human error, BT were incorrectly notified of a line transfer at Mr E’s address.’ BT has scrapped the £142 bill, restored all your services, and awarded you £200 to make up for this catalogue of very stressful errors.
If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected]
Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.
Why did TalkTalk give me a ‘black mark’?
S.T. writes: I switched to TalkTalk – a huge mistake. It sent equipment to connect my internet and landline, but it never could be connected. I cancelled the contract but made the mistake of paying £81 to get TalkTalk off my back. Two days later, debt collectors demanded another £116. They could not explain this, so I refused to pay and was told they would put a black mark on my credit rating. As a disabled 77-year-old, I cannot afford to give money away for nothing.
TalkTalk’s debt collectors seemed confused. Their demand thanks you for the £81 but adds that ‘a further invoice of £96 has been applied increasing your balance to £116’. There is nothing to show why you owe £96, or how this jumps to £116.
The answer is that there were a series of monthly charges, followed by a ‘breakage fee’, and then a credit for services you paid for but had not used. TalkTalk told me: ‘We are sorry for Mr T’s experience and the charges that were subsequently made to his account.’
TalkTalk accepts there was a fault that meant the service did not work. It has cancelled all outstanding charges, refunded your £81, and removed the default record from your credit file. You have told me: ‘It’s a weight lifted off my mind.’ Good.
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