Helen Nugent

Tax, HBOS, Mastercard and debt

It’s the self assessment tax deadline today and, as with previous years, one in ten taxpayers are expected to file late and incur a penalty of £100. Now The Times reports that middle-class taxpayers have been issued with a record number of fines for errors on their returns. According to the newspaper, last year HM Revenue & Customs imposed 143,000 penalties on those who filed inaccurate information ‘because it deemed them not to have taken “reasonable care” — nearly three times the 55,000 fines levied in 2012’. But it seems that these mistakes are minor. Accountants said the penalties were incurred for, among other things, forgetting to declare the interest on an old savings account or omitting a health insurance policy or gym membership received through work. HBOS The BBC reports that six people, including two former HBOS bankers, have been found guilty of bribery and fraud that includes fraudulent loans totalling £245 million. The action by the financiers came at a high price for the bank’s business customers and shareholders. As well as the monetary loss, businesses went bankrupt as a result and some of the owners lost their homes. Lynden Scourfield, a former manager with HBOS, pleaded guilty to six counts including corruption. Five other defendants, including so-called turnaround consultants, were also convicted. Price rises A number of the UK’s top brewers have warned that the weak pound is putting the craft beer revolution at risk, according to The Guardian. About 200 new breweries a year have been opening during the craft beer renaissance, but the drop in sterling has dramatically increased the cost of imported ingredients and equipment. Now drinkers, already stumping up more than £5 a pint for some independent ales, are being warned that they may have to accept price rises or switch to cheaper mass-market brands. Mastercard The Daily Mail reports on a blow for consumers after Mastercard won a £500 million courtroom battle against retailers over its fees.

Companies including Next, Debenhams, Morrisons and Topshop claimed they were overcharged on so-called interchange payments paid by shops to credit and debit card issuers when customers buy goods using plastic.

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