Judge rules decision a scandal and adds penalty for missing deadline should be dismissed
'HMRC’s decision to fine a homeless man for failing to complete his tax return on time has been described as a scandal by a judge, who found he should not be penalised for missing the deadline.
Krzysztof Pokorowski, a self-employed electrician, faced penalties adding up to £1,600 after failing to file his 2014-15 tax return by the date it was due. His appeal against the fines was heard at a tribunal in December.
Pokorowski, who represented himself, told the court he had ended up on the streets after losing his job and exhausting his savings, and that his documents had been lost or stolen after he was evicted from his home. HMRC had argued that it was his responsibility to notify them of a change of address.
Judge Nicholas Aleksander, who heard the case, said: “HMRC’s decision to pursue Mr Pokorowski for penalties in the circumstances of this appeal is a scandal. For HMRC to expect a homeless person to keep HMRC up-to-date with their address is ridiculous – and just needs to be stated to show its absurdity.”
The judgment tells how Pokorowski described how his life had started to disintegrate after he returned from a trip to Poland in April 2014. After losing his home he eventually ended up sleeping on the street until Christmas 2016 when he was told about a homeless shelter, and then in January 2017 he moved into a hostel.
In April 2017 Pokorowski found a job and permanent accommodation, and he filed the tax return three months later.
In the meantime, reminder letters and penalty notices were sent to his last known address in east London. These were supposed to notify him of a £100 penalty for late filing, £900 worth of daily penalties and two subsequent £300 penalties.
Anyone who misses the tax return deadline for filing can be charged £100 and then £10 a day for up to 90 days. There are then further penalties after six months and 12 months.
Individuals can appeal against the penalty if they have a reasonable excuse.'
Read more: 'Ridiculous': homeless man fined by HMRC for missing tax return