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Genuine HMRC emails
HMRC has issued an advisory note to let employers know that it is in the process of emailing an employer alert. These emails are headed Important information for employers and refer to Employer Bulletin 60. These emails are genuine and include valid links to pages on the GOV.UK website.
Taxpayers still need to be aware of the many phishing emails that are purported to come from HMRC. The sender’s email address can sometimes point to a fraudulent email although fraudsters have been known to falsify the 'from' address to look like a legitimate HMRC address for example '@hmrc.gov.uk'. Fake email messages can appear to be genuine but clicking on a link from within the email can result in personal information being compromised and the possibility of computer viruses affecting your computer or smartphone.
If you are unsure as to the validity of any email it should not be opened until the sender can be verified. HMRC has always made it clear that they do not send notifications of tax rebates by email nor do they ask recipients to disclose personal or payment information by email.
Liability to gaming duty
Gaming duty is a duty on casino gaming profits and is based on the gross gaming yield for premises where gaming takes place.
The gross gaming yield consists of:
- the total value of the stakes, minus players' winnings, on games in which the house is the banker, and
- any charges made in connection with dutiable gaming, including charges made for participation in equal chance games such as poker.
Gaming duty applies to games of chance, such as roulette, blackjack, where individuals play against a bank held by the gaming operator and to equal chance games, such as backgammon and poker, where the gaming operator provides facilities for customers to play against each other.
A recent Upper Tribunal decision examined the liability of gaming duty where a casino provides free bet vouchers or ‘non-negotiable’ chips to a player free of charge. These ‘non-negotiable’ chips are used to place bets at the gaming tables in the same way as cash chips. The First-tier Tribunal had rejected the appeal by London Clubs Management Limited and ruled that gaming duty was due on the face value of the voucher or chip.
This decision was appealed and the Upper Tribunal ultimately found that as there was no payment for the free bet by the player the ‘non-negotiable’ chips have no value for the purposes of calculating a liability to gaming duty. The taxpayer's appeal was allowed. This is an important decision and may have implications beyond gaming duty when looking at how to value prizes and vouchers. It is not yet known if HMRC will appeal the Upper Tribunal’s decision.
Received a penalty notice from HMRC?
The Low Income Tax Reform Group (LITRG) was established in 1998 to improve the policy and processes of the tax, tax credits and associated welfare systems for the benefit of those on low incomes. A new press release from the LITRG reminds taxpayers of their options when they receive a penalty notice from HMRC. If a taxpayer has made a genuine mistake, despite taking reasonable care, then no penalty should be due and the taxpayer can appeal against the penalty notice in question.
The press release stresses that '...where a tax return or other document submitted to them is incorrect, HMRC should only issue penalties in cases of careless or deliberate mistakes – not those where reasonable care was taken and certainly not without checking all the facts and circumstances behind the error.'
The inaccuracy penalty system was introduced to make penalties simpler to understand and more consistent across many taxes. The penalties can range from 0% where reasonable care is taken but nonetheless an incorrect return is submitted up to 100% of the tax where an error is deliberate and the taxpayer attempts to conceal it.
HMRC say that some of the ways you can take reasonable care include:
- keeping enough records to make accurate tax returns;
- keeping those records safe;
- asking HMRC or a tax adviser if you are not sure about anything, and following any advice you are given.
However, there is no clear definition of 'reasonable care' and HMRC is clear that their decision in part depends on an individual taxpayer's specific abilities and circumstances.