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Such penalties have been enforced even where no negligence exists and where no loss has been suffered by HMRC.
A recent example is Colin Lever who administered the estate of his late mother-in-law in 2007 without using solicitors. Mr Lever submitted an inheritance tax account which included the value of his late mother-in-law's house as £1.4 million. He had obtained this valuation from a professional firm. Six weeks later, the property sold at a sealed bid auction for £2 million. Mr Lever paid inheritance tax on the full £2 million.
Despite this, in 2008 HMRC began an investigation into the increase of the property value from the date of the inheritance tax account to the date of sale. The Revenue felt that Mr Lever should personally have to pay a penalty of £44,700 for delivering the incorrect inheritance tax account.
Karen Shakespeare, an associate in the Wills, Family and Wealth department of Access Legal from Shoosmiths said: 'HMRC's strict penalty regime can be extremely intimidating for anyone trying to administer the estate of a loved one.
'Many people seek help from professional firms for the reassurance of knowing the inheritance account will be completed by experienced people who are familiar with the Revenue's rules.'
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