Self-employed face taxing times

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THOUSANDS of self-employed people who failed to file tax returns have been sent letters in the run up to Christmas saying they may have their goods seized if they don’t pay up.

Around 300,000 people have been sent warning letters saying they must pay their outstanding fines or they will find debt ­collectors on their doorstep.

The move is part of a crackdown on the late filing of tax returns and is aimed at people who have run up penalties of £1,300 for missing the deadline for filing returns.

A spokesman for HM ­Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said the defaulters could still pay their fines, and submit the late tax returns.

“These non-filers have ignored numerous communications from HMRC, dating back to April 2011, including flyers, reminder letters, penalty notices and warning letters”.

“A customer can still phone us if they think they should not be in self-assessment, and will be taken through a number of questions to indicate if they should be in self-assessment or not.

“If they shouldn’t have been in it for 2010-11, penalties will then be waived,” he said.

The spokesman said there would be no action taken before Christmas, adding: “We have no interest in seizing anyone’s goods.

“The remedy to avoid all this is in the late-filer’s hands – pay the penalty and file their late return, and if they think they should not have to complete a return, talk to us as soon as possible.”

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, of the ACCA accountancy body, said the tax authority should be making it easier for people who are ­worried about their return to get in touch.

He added: “It is very difficult to get through to HMRC quickly enough to see it gets resolved.”.