HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has received almost 900,000 reports from taxpayers in the last 12 months of suspicious contact from cyber-criminals purporting to be HMRC via telephone, text messages and emails.
More than 620,000 of these were related to supposed communications from HMRC regarding bogus tax rebates. Over 100,000 were also related to telephone scams from fraudsters representing themselves as HMRC officials.
The tax authority is subsequently reminding individuals and small businesses of what to look for in fraudulent HMRC communications ahead of the 31st January deadline for 2018-19 self-assessment tax returns.
Typically, fraudsters are targeting taxpayers by telephone offering a fake tax rebate. In addition, some fraudsters also text or email taxpayers with a phishing link to a supposed HMRC landing page, where bank details and money is unwittingly stolen.
Some fraudsters have even been known to threaten vulnerable taxpayers with arrest or, worse still, imprisonment if a bogus tax bill is not paid in full immediately.
HMRC’s dedicated Customer Protection department is designed to eradicate such scams, but it is calling on taxpayers to be more vigilant in the coming weeks by recognising the signs of fraudulent communications.
First and foremost, HMRC will never contact taxpayers asking for their PIN, password or bank details.
Secondly, taxpayers are encouraged not to give out sensitive information via text messages, or to download email attachments and click on links within texts or emails that they aren’t expecting.
In the event taxpayers experience suspected fraudulent activity, they are encouraged to forward details of suspicious calls, texts or emails to [email protected] or text the information to 60599.
Any taxpayer experiencing a financial loss as a result of such activity should immediately liaise with Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Are you eligible for 2018-19 self-assessment?
With just two months until the deadline for online self-assessment tax returns for the 2018-19 tax year, there’s no doubt that fraudulent activity will escalate in earnest.
Nevertheless, if you are eligible for self-assessment, you’ll need to file an online return by 31st January 2020 come what may, or risk incurring late-filing penalties from HMRC.
You’ll need to file a self-assessment tax return if:
- You earned more than £2,500 from letting out a property
- You or your partner received Child Benefit and either of you had an annual income of £50,000+
- You received over £2,500 in additional untaxed income e.g. commission or tips
- You are a self-employed sole trader
- You are an employee claiming expenses to the value of £2,500+
- You have an annual income of £100,000+
- You earned income from abroad that needs to be taxed
If you are confused or worried about how to organise your tax affairs and ensure you pay the correct amount of tax for your 2018-19 income, we can work with you to complete your tax return, calculate your tax liability and liaise with you on the amounts to be paid and their due date.
For a fixed, competitive price we utilise HMRC-approved software to file self-assessment tax returns on behalf of taxpayers, allowing you to focus on doing what you do best – running your business and making a living.
For a free initial consultation on your 2018-19 self-assessment eligibility, call our friendly, experienced team today on 0800 0523 555 or drop us a line using our online enquiry form.