See http://www.mrw-law.co.uk/news/2012/09/20/taxpayers-entitled-to-rely-on-first-class-post/ for the summary but the nub of it was that the company had a “reasonable excuse” as provided for by the Income Tax (PAYE) Regs 2003.
That reasonable excuse was identified in this case as the reasonable expectation that the payment would arrive on time. In turn, that relied on the belief that a cheque sent by first class post would arrive the next day.
“Taking all these matters into account we consider that a reasonable employer, having due regard to his responsibilities in relation to PAYE, is generally entitled to rely on next day delivery in the ordinary course of first class post”, the tribunal judge concluded.
Well, if you didn’t nod off four paragraphs ago, you may be forgiven for now rolling about on the floor in response to the idea that Royal Mail can be relied on to deliver next day, whatever grade of service is chosen and paid for. See http://www.legalchap.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/bottom-of-class.html for one of many sparkling past performances.
More important though is the question of why people are spending time and money, some of it the taxpayer’s, in some dark room in Manchester having this antediluvian debate.
Cheques, “first class” post? Why is anyone – certainly a business owner and employer - still messing around with these antiquated forms of payment when it’s cheaper, faster, greener and more secure to pay by BACS or similar online means?
The answer is, largely if not entirely, that our antiquated tax collection services perpetuate these out-of-date practices. They even try to persuade those who already live in the modern era to regress - http://www.legalchap.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/junk-mail.html.
A well-informed source told me last year that the money collected in income tax does no more than to fund the entire revenue collection system, with the net effect that the only profit is on VAT, Corporation Tax etc. I don’t know if that’s true but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Let's get down to basics. Somebody needs to give the whole operation a colossal kick up the backside to the point where even the people sitting there licking envelopes and juggling cheques understand the importance of not filling a sack full of holes.
Then stop asking me and the rest of the population to scrimp and save so that those stuck in these mindless routines need not get off their comfort level and move with the times.