A piece in today’s print edition of The Times, not available online:
The pursuit of a homeless man by the tax office has been condemned as a scandal by a judge.
Krzysztof Pokorowski was penniless and living rough when HM Revenue and Customs chased him for £1,600 in fines for filing a tax return late.
He did not receive letters from HMRC because he had been thrown out of his home and all his belongings, including tax records, had been lost or stolen.
At a tax tribunal, Judge Nicholas Aleksander overturned the fined and said: “For HMRC to expect a homeless person to keep them up to date on his address is ridiculous and just needs to be stated to show its absurdity.”
Mr Pokorowski. a self-employed electrician who lived in Walthamstow, London, had his drink spiked at a bar in 2014 and as a result “lost his job, exhausted all of his savings, was evicted from his house, and his belongings were thrown onto the street.”
He slept rough until he secured a place in a homeless shelter at Christmas 2016, then found a permanent home and another job. It was while he was down and out that he missed a deadline on April 2015 for filing a return. Fines from HMRC totalled £1,600 by February 2017.
Lawyers for HMRC said there was nothing “special” about Mr Pokorowski and his homelessness was not “out of the ordinary run of events”. [J4MB emphasis]
The judge said: “No reasonable HMRC officer, acting reasonably, could have reached this decision. Being homeless and having to sleep on the street has to be something out of the ordinary run of events.” His homelessness amounted to “a particular difficulty or misfortune” that should have prompted HMRC to waive the fines.
The judge noted that, within three months of finding a permanent home, Mr Pokorowski filed the tax return. He concluded: “I find that he had a reasonable excuse for his defaults and therefore allow his appeal.”
90% of street homeless people are men. Street homelessness robs the average person of 30 years of life expectancy, in part because the suicide rate among these unfortunate people is very high.
You can subscribe to The Times here.
If everyone who read this gave us £10.00 – or even better, £10.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. Click here to make a difference. Thanks.