HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning Self-Assessment customers to be on their guard following the Self-Assessment deadline after more than 570,000 scams were reported to HMRC in the last year.
Self-Assessment customers are at increased risk of falling victim to scams at this time of year, even if they don’t mention Self-Assessment. They can be taken in by scam texts, emails or calls either offering a ‘refund’ or demanding unpaid tax, thinking that they are genuine HMRC communications referring to their Self-Assessment return.
HMRC gave customers an extra month to submit a completed tax return and if customers filed by 28 February 2022, they would avoid a late filing penalty. Customers have until 1 April to pay their outstanding tax bill or set up a Time to Pay arrangement to avoid receiving a late payment penalty. Interest has been applied to all outstanding balances since 1 February.
HMRC is also reminding Self-Assessment customers to double check websites and online forms before using them to complete their 2020 to 2021 tax return. People can be taken in by misleading websites designed to make them pay for help in submitting tax returns or charging to connect them to HMRC phone lines. Customers who are in any doubt about whether a website is genuine should visit GOV.UK for more information about Self Assessment and use the free signposted tax return forms.
HMRC has a dedicated team working on cyber and phone crimes. They use innovative technologies to prevent misleading and malicious communications from ever reaching the customer. In the last 12 months (to January 2022) HMRC has:
- responded to 572,423 referrals of suspicious contact from the public. More than 219,740 of these offered bogus tax rebates
- worked with the telecoms industry and Ofcom to remove more than 920 phone numbers being used to commit HMRC-related phone scams
- responded to 267,671 reports of phone scams in total. In April 2020 HMRC received reports of only 425 phone scams. In January 2022 this had risen to 3,995
- reported more than 6,160 malicious web pages for takedown
- detected 463 COVID-19-related financial scams since March 2020, most by text message
- asked Internet Service Providers to take down 443 COVID-19-related scam web pages