The owner of a small, Manchester café ‘nearly fell over’ after receiving a tax bill of nearly £1bn.
Florence Coke, who runs the independent Caribbean eatery, Mama Flo’s, was informed by HMRC, in a ‘threatening’ letter, that she owed £979,092,858 in VAT and that her assets could be seized if she failed to pay. The experience for the 59-year-old was made worse, given that around the same time her mother had died and so was due to fly out to Jamaica to attend the funeral.
‘When I realised it was nearly £1bn I nearly fell over in the kitchen. I don’t even make a wage. I was so stressed out. I had two major problems and I was worrying about my cafe while I was away.’
HMRC denied the letter was even sent, when Coke called to question the £1bn tax bill, but copies have since been published in the Manchester Evening News.
The blunder was rectified by HMRC with flowers and an amended VAT bill of just under £17,000. An HMRC spokesperson said: We are very sorry to hear of the problems our customer has had. We cannot comment on individual cases but when mistakes do happen our aim is to always put them right as soon as we can and apologise for any inconvenience caused.