Essex fire service pays £119,000 bill after tax errors

The fire service in Essex has said it had to pay more than £119,000 to HM Revenue and Customs after it underpaid national insurance contributions.

A report to the Essex Fire Authority revealed the accounting error by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service over a three-year period from 2007 to 2010.

It has had to pay the outstanding £101,837, along with a penalty of £10,191 and £7,269 in interest.

The error involved the taxable value of cars it provided to some officers.

'Settled promptly'

The fire service said the vehicles were regarded as a "benefit in kind" for tax purposes.

Over the three years it was found the service had not paid enough tax on them.

Its finance director and treasurer, Mike Clayton, said it had "co-operated fully" with HM Revenue and Customs throughout the review.

"[We] settled promptly once the underpayment was identified," he said.

"This is reflected in the level of penalty which is at the lower end of the scale."

The audit committee of the county's fire authority will meet to discuss the report.

The report did not state who was responsible for the error, or whether any action had or would be taken.

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