Millions of Britons hit by tax error
British authorities on Tuesday began informing the first of nearly six million people they have paid the wrong amount of income tax because of errors in the system.
About 4.3 million people have paid too much tax and are due a refund, but a further 1.4 million have underpaid and will have to hand back an average sum of 1,428 pounds each (2,197 dollars, 1,722 euros).
HM Revenue and Customs, the tax department, has sent out the first 45,000 letters to people who are affected, with the rest due to arrive by Christmas.
According to press reports, a total of two billion pounds has been underpaid over the past two years through the pay-as-you-earn tax system, which imposes a levy on income at source, while 1.8 billion pounds has been overpaid.
A small number of cases always have to be re-assessed because people fail to tell the government about a change in circumstances, such as a new job, but a higher number of mistakes have emerged this year because of a new IT system.
© 2010 AFP