As the tax year ends, the phishing season begins.
As we near the end of the tax year it's time for many people to consider how they utilise their ISA allowances, CGT annual exemptions and such like. It's also the perfect time of year for unscrupulous individuals/organisations to blanket send their "you are due a refund" email.
I received one such email today. It purported to be from "HMRC Gateway.gov.uk" and contained information confirming I am due a refund of £279.99 and all I have to do to reclaim it is click a link. All very exciting as I could do with a bit of extra cash, who couldn’t? Well, clicking the link could have pretty much the opposite effect of receiving a refund, which would make me sad.
To be honest, I'm fairly paranoid about Internet security so I promptly deleted the email. I am also "in the trade", so to speak, and understand that HMRC would never send an email to a taxpayer confirming they are due a refund.
The problem is that these emails target a lot of people, many of whom may fall foul of the email and therefore would click the link. The reason these emails get sent out is that they have some kind of success rate as they prey on the unwary and the naïve. There is little that can be done to stop them sending the emails but we can remember the old adage that "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is".
Remember, HMRC never send out emails confirming refunds, or the opposite version where they threaten to take you to court for failing to pay tax (a colleague had one of those recently).
In short, be careful with any emails you suspect may not be on the level. If in doubt, delete it. HMRC have some useful information which can be found here.
If you have further questions or would like to know if you are due a tax refund please don't hesitate to contact our Private Client team on 01245 228146.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.