Self-assessment taxpayers are being warned to beware of fraudsters pretending to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the run up to the 31 January deadline for submitting their annual tax return.
According to Kent accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson, which has offices in Maidstone and Canterbury, there were 900,000 reports from the public last year about suspicious HMRC contact – whether phone calls, texts or emails. More than 100,000 of these were phone scams, while over 620,000 reports from the public were about bogus tax rebates.
MHA MacIntyre Hudson Tax Partner Glen Thomas said: “Fraudsters are becoming ever more sophisticated in the techniques they employ and with tax such a stressful and complicated issue it is not surprising people fall victim to their scams.
“Some of the most common techniques include phoning taxpayers offering a fake tax refund or pretending to be HMRC by texting or emailing a link which will take customers to a false page, where their bank details and money will be stolen.
“If people are in any doubt at all, they should check with their professional advisers or contact HMRC.”
HMRC operates a dedicated Customer Protection team to identify and close down scams but is advising customers to recognise the signs to avoid becoming victims themselves.
It says it would never contact customers asking for their PIN, password or bank details and people should never give out private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails which they are not expecting.
People need to complete a tax return if they:
- earned more than £2,500 from renting out property
- or their partner received Child Benefit and either of them had an annual income of more than £50,000
- received more than £2,500 in other untaxed income, for example from tips or commission
- are self-employed sole traders or a partner in a business partnership
- are employees claiming expenses in excess of £2,500
- have an annual income over £100,000
- have earned income from abroad that they need to pay tax on
- have made a capital gain following the sale of an asset