MSE News: Filing a tax return? Avoid self-assessment copycat sites

"If you're filing a self-assessment tax form, avoid sites that charge up to £1,000 when you can do it yourself for free..."
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Filing a tax return? Avoid self-assessment copycat sites


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  • I have just had a look at and it quite clearly states it has nothing to do with HMRC and actually gives a link to the hmrc website.

    If people use any website without properly reading what is in front of them, then they are asking for trouble.

    However, I do think these types of sites should be banned.
  • Regshoe
    Regshoe Posts: 237 Forumite
    Agreed - it seems pretty clear to me who they are. Ok, I'm an accountant who regularly uses the HMRC portal, but even so if you spend even 15 seconds reading the home page it is obvious who they are.

    That said they do sound overly expensive - starting at £150.00 just to 'check' the return after having the client fill it in, this is more like what I'd charge if I'd filled it in for them and would include a face to face meeting.

    Plus £100 for registration for self assessment? It looks like they just plug the information directly into the HMRC website, even if they had to manually key the information that sort of charge is ridiculous and something I would do for no extra charge if I was filing a Self Assessment for a client. I struggle to see what value they are adding to this process.
  • Surely if they are using the initals HMRC this would be illegal, we got caught but then submitted it to the REAL HMRC so when they (HMRCgateway) did surely they were posting a repeat submission, and incur no cost.
    I know we should have read the home page but when you have done it so many times you take it for granted it is so like the official page.
    Can HMRC not get put to the top when it is googled?
  • As suggested by other posters above, these sites make it clear enough it is a commercial service. The only real advantage I can see over using HMRC online self-assessment is if you are too late to get an online activation code, but frankly you might as well be late, cop a £100 penalty and save the cost of a filing-only tax return service.

    Reasons not to use HMRC are given as:

    Instant registration and submission - fair enough on the former, but you can also get single use commercial software for a much lower cost.

    Simplified return process with forms tailored to your needs - er, the HMRC site offers this

    Return checked for errors and omissions prior to submission - the HMRC site does this

    Automated SMS email notifications during the return process - true but no big deal

    Immediate estimation of tax before return submission - HMRC site shows you this

    Free reprocessing service in the event of any errors - also available from HMRC!

    Email/SMS reminder of payment deadlines - bummer, HMRC don't do this, however most users will be painfully aware of the 31 Jan deadline, and if they are making payments on account HMRC send out a statement too so you don't forget the 31 July payment, so it is of dubious benefit

    Return held online for 2 years for your reference - HMRC beats that

    Totally online paperless service - "optional" from HMRC, but many see the ability to submit a paper return before 30 September as a benefit

    It could be alleged that some of the statements made about limitations of HMRC's online service are misleading, and those with knowledge of contract and consumer law who have unwittingly used a non-HMRC website and been charged for the privilege might be able to recover their money. But at the end of the day the site isn't claiming to be HMRC and even includes obvious enough links to HMRC for those who don't want a "value added" service. And when did you hear of HMRC asking you for card details up front?

    So I'm afraid this is a classic case of buyer beware. But I'd be more concerned about data privacy and lack of any advisory element for my £500 or whatever.At least if you go to an accountant you can verify their credentials, go through the proper HMRC Agent authorisation process, and get some advice too, probably for a lesser outlay!
  • Keeop
    Keeop Posts: 45 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    It looks obvious now (just had a look myself), but the various news reports on this site say they have changed their front page to make the differences more clear, so it's possible that it was much more confusing when all these people decided to use the service by mistake.

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