PAYE / Self Assessment Complaints



Dear Sir/Madam

I am currently being threatened by your Self Assessment department for not filing tax returns for the past four years. There is a ridiculous sum of money being suggested as a fine for not filling in the forms. Were I a UK resident, or employed in the UK I would probably take these threats very seriously, however I am neither. A phone call to you from the US proved expensive and extremely unhelpful, and so I wrote a note explaining my position. Today I received a threatening reply from a Mrs X XXXXXX asking me to fill in three tax returns, which would involve writing exactly the same information three times over: I have not earned any money in the UK.

I have been a US resident since the latter half of 2007 and have earned no money whatsoever in the UK since then.

My wife and I moved to the USA in the latter half of 2007. Soon after this, I filed my final tax return with HMRC (probably around January 2008 - I don’t remember because it was four years ago). Our belongings, including the minimal amount of paperwork we decided to ship, were still in transit by the SA deadline and so I called HMRC for help. I dealt with a very helpful lady and explained that:

  1. I didn’t have my paper work, but I had been paid exclusively via PAYE for the previous years and so I would do what I could to estimate the exact numbers.
  2. I needed to un-register as self employed in the UK because I am now a US resident.

The lady, whose name escapes me being as this was four years ago, said she would put a note on the account and close me out. I submitted my return electronically together with a note explaining my position.

A month or so later, I received a cheque from HMRC for around 2000 pounds (or was it dollars, I don’t quite remember because it was four years ago) as I had paid too much in the previous year.

Four years elapsed with no contact from the HMRC; why should there have been?

We bought a house and I am now working in my third job since emigrating.

A month or so ago my mother in law received the first in a new range of threatening letters addressed to me from HMRC. It’s fortunate that the address you had on file is still occupied by a family member or else I would never have seen these letters.

So here are the central thrusts of my complaint:

  1. I most assuredly did notify HMRC of my emigration. If your records do not show this, then your records are wrong! There should be plenty of evidence of my assertions in your call history, computer system unless you don’t keep information that long - it was four years ago. I refuse to be punished with the trial by tedium of filling in unnecessary paperwork.
  2. I’m baffled that you didn’t contact me sooner regarding the missing tax returns - at least then we could have addressed the misunderstanding without the need for threats on either side. Why did it take so long?
  3. As I mentioned in 2007, I had been paid via PAYE exclusively for the previous years. Whilst its possible that the start-up company I worked for is still in operation, and that they keep records going back that far, it is very unlikely that I will bother to contact them regarding this petty bureaucratic matter. We all have more pressing matters. If you want to know how much I earned and was taxed, check your records. If it looks like they underpaid PAYE, let me know and I’ll write you a cheque (or “check” as they say here). If they overpaid, you can send my cheque to the above address - my mother in law will pop it round.
  4. I am not, nor ever have been, and never will be someone who evades or avoids tax. I now have to deal with the IRS which is enough for me.

Finally - I would like to reiterate that:

I have been a US resident since the latter half of 2007 and have earned no money whatsoever in the UK since then.

So, please, I urge you to help me resolve this situation.  Please apply a cessation of tax liability retroactively to my account, starting from my  tax return of 2007 until the foreseeable future. In the unlikely circumstance that I begin earning money in the UK again I will, of course, notify you immediately.

Alternatively you could do everyone a favour and recognise the ludicrousness of this situation and that it would be simpler, more cost effective and less embarrassing to just leave me alone.

Yours faithfully,