I worked for ONE day before quitting a job… how can I owe Revenue & Customs £721 in tax? TONY HETHERINGTON investigates
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.
I.L. writes: During 2019, I spent one day working for a company before deciding the job was not for me and I quit. I was paid for the day, and received the usual tax form P45 showing I had left.
Months later, checking my online tax account, I found the employer had mistakenly used my National Insurance number for a new employee it had taken on. This meant £14,000 of someone else’s income was added to my tax records. Revenue & Customs says only the employer can resolve this, but the company itself says it has updated this and removed the income from my account.
Nevertheless, Revenue & Customs is still saying I owe £721 in back taxes. I have also checked online and found that the new employee’s earnings were still being attributed to me for every month until March this year.
Mistake: The tax problem lasted for two years but has been resolved
Tony Hetherington replies: Soon after contacting me, you thought you had found a sympathetic official at the tax office who would sort out your tax record for 2019.
However, you then found that since then, the employer had carried on linking someone else’s earnings to your tax and National Insurance record, with phantom wages supposedly paid to you right up to March this year.
You even tried to sort this out by contacting the company that employed you for just one day in 2019, but you were bounced around with one department blaming another and then vice versa. As the employee who succeeded you really has been getting paid, what seems to have happened is that her earnings are being entered twice in company records, once in her name and then again in your name.
The big difference is that you are not receiving a penny of these ghost wages, but you are being treated by the tax office as if the money is yours, so it is no surprise that the taxman has been expecting to get his hands on a slice.
I asked officials at the Revenue & Customs head office to step in and sort this out, and they did so quite quickly. The company had given the tax office ‘mismatched employee details’, I was told, and the problem had now been resolved.
This left open the question of the demand for £721, though. As Revenue & Customs reviews employers’ records annually, it turned out that a specialist team had cleaned up your own tax file for 2019, only to find the same problem continuing for two more years.
A Revenue & Customs official told me: ‘Corrective action has now been taken and the unpaid tax bill has been cancelled. The previous bill of £721 was wrong as it was not based solely on Mr L’s income.
‘We can confirm that Mr L has no tax to pay, and we are sorry for the concern this has caused him.’
I deserve the FULL winter fuel payout
Mrs S.C. writes: In 2004, my daughter and I bought the house in the UK we still live in, from a gentleman who was living in Portugal.
Since this gentleman has become old enough to qualify for the Winter Fuel Allowance, the Department for Work and Pensions has told me that as I am cohabiting with him, he is entitled to half my £200 allowance.
Every year we tell the DWP this is not true, but they still give him £100 from my allowance.
Veto: Pensioners moving to warmer places such as Portugal do not qualify
Tony Hetherington replies: The Winter Fuel Allowance is not paid to pensioners who have moved to warm countries such as Portugal, so my guess is that the man who sold you the house in the UK has never informed the Department for Work and Pensions that he lives abroad. Its records will show his address as yours.
I asked the DWP to look into this. It told me: ‘Mrs C was receiving her full and correct entitlement of Winter Fuel Allowance up until 2019, when it was incorrectly changed to a shared rate.’
Records have now been amended to show you are not cohabiting, and are entitled to the full payment. By the time you read this, you will have received top-up payments covering the past two years.
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.