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Tax office computer error gave woman £14,000

By Mark Andrews | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A Shrewsbury businesswoman who was wrongly given a tax rebate of more than £14,000 says the authorities ignored her attempts repay it.

Claire Kirby, who runs a dog behavioural business in the town, says it took her more than four months to persuade HM Revenue and Customs to allow her to pay the money back.

She says the money was paid into her account as a result of a random computer error. But she says her letters asking to repay the money were ignored, and it was only when Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski intervened that any action was taken.

Mrs Kirby is a friend of former Shrewsbury postmistress Rubbina Shaheen, who says a computer glitch led to her being wrongly jailed for false accounting.

She said her own experiences demonstrate how computer errors can lead to financial discrepancies.

Mrs Kirby, of Coton Crescent, Shrewsbury, noticed that two payments had gone into her bank account in April this year. One of them was for about £300 which she was owed as a tax rebate. But a second payment of £14,145.33 also appeared, prompting Mrs Kirby get in touch.

"I rang them up, and they said they could see the £300 payment on their system, but could not see the one for £14,000," she said.

Mrs Kirby said she wrote a letter to HMRC in July, but received no reply.

She wrote again in September, but said HMRC only responded following the intervention of Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski.

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'Still no explanation'

"They have allowed me to pay the money back, and they have given me £150 compensation because my accountant was involved and it cost me money," said Mrs Kirby.

"I spoke to them twice, but it wasn't until Daniel Kawczynski got on to them I got any response."

Mrs Kirby added that she was still awaiting an explanation as to why the error had happened.

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"They are promising me a letter, but still no explanation," she said.

Mrs Shaheen, also 54, claims a glitch with the Post Office's computer system led to her being wrongly jailed for false accounting in 2010.

She is one of hundreds of present and former post office workers who claim they have been wrongly blamed for financial discrepancies caused by the Horizon computer database.

Mrs Shaheen, who used to keep Greenfields Post Office in Shrewsbury, is waiting to hear from the Criminal Cases Review Commission about whether or not her case will be reopened.

A separate action, involving more than 500 former post office workers, is being heard in the High Court.

HMRC said it would not be able to comment on individual cases without a confidentiality waiver from the client.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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