Monday, 19 March 2012

HM Revenue and Customs

Today I followed instructions and rang the HMRC help line! Recently I have been bombarded with threats from the Tax authorities that I had a penalty notice of £100 for failing to submit an online self assessment. These penalties would rise to £1600 if I did not comply with their diktat!

What actually happened was that the software rejected my input so I sent in my P60's by snail mail. They refused to accept the physical evidence of my pensions but at least confirmed that I had submitted the evidence on time.

I rang the help desk and spoke to a clued up lady who assured me that actually I did not qualify for self assessment (pensioners rarely do) and she would sort it out. 

Since then I have had threats from all quarters. You know the letters written in bold red capitals insisting that you are guilty of a misdemeanour even when you know that you are not. It is high quality bullying and would frighten to death anyone who did not have the financial capacity to withstand the threat. The whole system resembles a revenue generation exercise.

However, credit where credit is due, because apparently my helper has cancelled my penalty notice and taken me off self assessment. I have used this helpline twice and been treated with courtesy and respect. What a shame that the rest of the HMRC machine is so aggressive.  

The lesson is that you must fight your corner. Do not accept their red letters! I suspect, and I am an ex Civil Servant, that all is not well at HMRC, but the people are still human when you get to speak to them! So ring them up if you have  a case. Do not accept their false payment cheques. It all looks so official but it is not. Don't do it  challenge it. They are making huge sums of money out of the ignorance of the public because so many people do not understand what is happening. They are using fear as a tool. It really is undemocratic but what is new?


profoundly_disturbed said...

Guilty until acquital is grudgingly conceded?

Anonymous said...

the most aggressive of all of them seem to be based in Cumbernauld.

anyhow said...

My thoughts exactly. HMRC are no different to any public body nor any debt collection agency.

The people who work within assume they have the right of it and it is up to the guilty to prove otherwise.

Not sure whether this 'holier than thou' is because of indoctrination, or belief that they are above the plebs because they work in government but whatever the cause it is endemic in any taxpayer funded body but it seems to be baked in with HMRC.

bryboy said...

Just to recap, what I found difficult to accept is that every letter, reminder or threat comes from a different office in a different city. I have recently had communication from Cardiff, Bradford, Newcastle, Sunderland and yes dear old Cumbernauld. The taxpayer is left confused as to who or what he/she is dealing with. It appears to be deliberately set up to bewilder!

bewick said...

Generally I've found HMRC staff very helpful but not always.
Once though, shortly after I was made redundant, one cheeky woman in Newcastle asked me, in writing, what I had done with the redundancy money!
After asking which law gave her the right to ask that I made a list for her - much fictitious (most of the money had been invested and declared as such)- ending with "and last night I bought a Chinese takeway of beef and ginger....... costing £x.xx."
I got a written apology.
More than can be said for the tax inspector who hauled me in on an undisclosed violation. That one gave me a week of worry and work as I examined 6 years worth of accounts for an accidental non-disclosure. Within 2 minutes of the meeting starting he had a red face but issued no apology. He had ignored that I was VAT registered - the number on all my correspondence - so my invoice totals were properly shown ex-vat.No mistakes, no violation, no apology.
I did once suffer the £100 fine. The paper return was in on time but I had neglected to sign AS self-employed the signature strip was in the middle! Had they phoned me I could easily have gone along to sign - and still in time. They didn't.
I objected vociferously to their HQ but still had to pay. A couple of years later the form was changed so that the strip was on the front!! No thanks, no nothing, and I'd guess a Civil Servant got a bonus for my suggestion.
Unfortunately, although a pensioner, I am still subject to SA but now it is far easier than paper.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time I read a degree in Public Administration. Did it help me get a job in the public sector, quite the opposite, to my horror I disgovered it was the worst possible qulification to have.

How British.