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Flesh and blood wins over computer

07 March 2018

A judge has warned HMRC that a tax official rather than a computer programme should make assessments for any fines.

The surprise judgement comes in the case of Khan Properties Limited, and there is real concern that this ruling could lead to a surge in successful appeals, costing the public purse millions of pounds in lost revenue.

Khan Properties was appealed against a £100 late company tax return fine. Judge Richard Thomas said: “In my view the requirement…is for a flesh and blood human being who is an officer of HMRC to make the assessment and decide to impose the penalty and give instructions which may be executed by a computer.”

RSM’s George Bull said that everyone thought automatic fines were valid until now, so the decision has taken the tax community by surprise.

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