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Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Thanks a Five Billion

11 February 2015

While there’s nothing like an unexpected bill to upset your equilibrium; this man from a village near Derby was instantly transported to a far-future annual earnings bracket of about £12bn.  Did the authorities believe this 78-year-old is more of a money magnet than Apple, or did this letter come from a millennia in the future?  Right here and now, the latter seems more plausable.

Named as Doug Yeomans, the pensioner told the BBC and newspapers he wasn’t surprised to have a letter from HMRC.  In an act of understatement at least equal to the over statement from the tax authorities, Mr Yeomans said that when he saw the amount, alarm bells started to ring.

Really Mr Yoemans?  Come on, it was only just over £4.7bn, and, after all, it wasn’t as if payment was immediately demanded in full.  In fact, the plucky pensioner had two weeks to pay - and even then only in instalments of just over £950 million. 

How could a pensioner end up owning the income tax equivalent of about 150,000 lifetimes?  More importantly, how long will it take him to pay it off?

Let’s assume that Mr Yoemans is not in a position to service a payment schedule of £950m per month.  Given an otherwise good tax record, we feel HMRC would be willing to negotiate. 

Let’s say £950 a month is more manageable.  That’s just £950 a month … for about the next five million months. 

If Mr Yoemans used a time machine just like HG Wells’ intrepid Time Traveller- a no more preposterous concept than the bill from HMRC - he could possibly see off this debt. He could start paying now, and begin his journey into the ends of time.  After he had been witness to the crumbling of his Derbyshire cottage into dust; and after the Earth had endured nuclear war, nuclear winter, and an ice age, and after civilisation had risen again and fallen again, and after he’d befriended the Eloi and defeated the Morlocks, and after he’d won the heart of Weena, the innocent beauty from nearly a thousand millennia in the future  … Mr Yoemans would still be getting a monthly statement from HMRC.

However, no need to panic, the good news is there is no need for Mr Yoemans to worry – it was all a big mistake for which HMRC have issued a big apology!  However, it does make you wonder how many small mistakes go by unnoticed – worth getting things checked professionally ... don’t you think?


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