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Civil Service Staff Threaten Self-Assessment Deadline Day Strike

by Robert Lee, Tax-News.com, London

03 January 2007


The threat of late filing penalties looms for UK taxpayers submitting their tax returns at the last minute as 280,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) begin balloting for ongoing national civil service-wide industrial action commencing with a one day strike on January 31.

The move comes in protest at government plans to continue outsourcing civil service jobs and privatising certain government functions in a bid to trim costs.

The ballot also follows plans drawn up by HM Revenue and Customs which signal sweeping office closures and up to a further 12,500 job cuts, on top of a drive already aimed at cutting 12,500 jobs. The union believes additional job cuts above those already planned in other departments could follow as a number of government departments are having their budgets cuts by 15% over the period 2008 to 2011.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The decision to ballot for industrial action to secure assurances on job security and services, in addition to pay and privatisation could have been avoided if the government had sought to meaningfully negotiate.

“Job cuts are damaging services and are completely unnecessary," he added.

Pointing to internal HMRC figures which show a backlog of 1 million items of post across the department, the PCS has previously warned that the HMRC will "not be fit for purpose" within two years if the government goes ahead with the job cuts.

If the strike action goes ahead as planned on Janaury 31 - the deadline for submission of tax returns for the year 2005/6 - the many thousands of self-assessment taxpayers who are likely to send their tax returns to HMRC on deadline day may be slapped with an automatic fine of GBP100 for submitting a late return.


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