As the 31 January deadline for filing Self Assessment tax returns approaches, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning taxpayers about fraud. 
 
This year there have already been nearly 900,000 reports of suspicious HMRC telephone calls, texts and emails. 
 
More than 100,000 were telephone scams and more than 620,000 of them were about false tax rebates. 
HMRC has a Customer Protection team tackle the problem but wants people to know that HMRC and banks will never contact you asking for your PIN, password or bank details. 
 
Why small businesses are at risk 
For most people in employment tax is automatically deducted from wages, pensions or savings. 
 
However, self-employed sole traders need to complete a self assessment tax return each year. If you’re a small business owner, tax won’t be automatically deducted from your income, and in some cases, you might earn extra untaxed income as well, so you will also need to complete a self assessment tax return. 
 
This means that fraudsters could sound quite plausible if they contact you about your tax return. 
 
What to look out for 
Telephone calls to taxpayers, allegedly from HMRC, are the most common approach. Fraudsters say that a tax refund is due and send a text or email link to a website page where the false refund can be claimed. Once your bank details have been added, your money will be stolen. 
 
In some cases, people are threatened with arrest or imprisonment if they don’t pay a non-existent tax bill. 
 
 
What to do 
You should never give out your private information, reply to text messages, download attachments or click on links in texts or emails that you aren’t expecting. 
 
If you receive any suspicious calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, you should forward details to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and send texts to 60599. 
 
If you are targeted 
If you become a victim of this type of fraud you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool
 
You can also find more information on how to recognise, avoid and report scams at www.gov.uk
 
If you think you have paid too much tax 
On the other hand, if you think you might have paid too much tax on your income, savings and investments, you can fill in a form (R40) to reclaim it on the HMRC website. 
 
This could happen if you have, for example: 
changed jobs or left paid employment to start your business 
made pension payments 
received income from a life or pension annuity 
received a redundancy payment. 
 
It’s a good idea to check your tax statement for the year and keep a note of any unusual changes to your income that might mean you have overpaid. In most cases, you can claim a refund for up to four previous tax years. 
 
If you would like advice about your Self Assessment tax return or your income tax payments, please get in touch
Tagged as: tax, tax return
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