A Chorley pensioner had to keep a close eye on his spending over the festive period – after receiving a tax bill for more than £500,000.
Shocked Don Yates, who has to manage on an income of around £11,000 a year, was told to cough up the staggering amount by the Inland Revenue.
The 72-year-old widower, who lives in an £80,000 terraced house on Jackson Street, Chorley, said: “I read it out to my daughter. She said, ‘Are you a secret millionaire?’
“I said it’s that secret, I don’t know about it!”
The mistaken self-assessment bill for £576,850.85 - sent in December – actually followed another sent to him in November for £384,567.25.
Mr Yates, a former Chorley borough and Lancashire county councillor, who was chairman of the county council in 1996-97, said he misread the first one and thought it was for £384 tax to be paid until he read it properly later.
He said he had no idea why the bigger, second bill had followed.
“I’m asking if I can pay £1 a week,” joked the former furniture upholsterer, who was also a senior shop steward at Leyland Motors in Chorley, where he worked for 19 years.
“Either this machine has got a massive sense of humour or someone has pressed the button too many times.”
Mr Yates, who was told last January he owed tax of just £529, has been in touch with the Inland Revenue and is due to go and see them in Chorley.
“Obviously, if they want it, I’ve not got it,” he said.
He said the shock could have been worse for someone else receiving such a huge bill.
“Somebody could have been really upset – or they could have had a stroke,” he added.