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Sorry we sent you a £1bn tax bill... have some flowers: Taxman used public money to fund 100 bouquets for customers handed incorrect demands over the past five years

Nothing encourages forgiveness quite like a bouquet of flowers. And even the taxman, it seems, likes to say sorry with floral arrangements when he gets his sums mixed up. According to figures released by HM Revenues and Customs, public money was used to fund more than 100 bouquets for customers handed incorrect demands over the past five years. One recipient of a floral apology was Florence Coke, a cafe owner from Gorton, Greater Manchester, who was wrongly sent a tax bill for nearly £1billion.  Officials later agreed with her that the amount was incorrect, and dispatched a revised bill of £17,000 along with a bouquet of flowers. She said: ‘I was really, really traumatised by getting that demand. It nearly killed me thinking I owed £1billion. I was new to business and naïve. It was shocking.’ Mrs Coke, 60, said it was ‘insulting’ that the taxman thought he could compensate her for the trauma of being handed such a massive demand with a cheap bunch of flowers. ‘When the flowers came they didn’t even have a note saying who they were from,’ she said. ‘I only realised they were from the taxman when a letter came afterwards apologising and saying they had sent some flowers. ‘They can’t have cost them much more than £10. It’s insulting for them to use taxpayer’s money to say sorry for their own mistakes.’