18 months ago, I had a rant about the ineptitude of HM Revenue and Customs in losing the personal details of over 25 million people in the UK. Well, if you don’t want to read another rant, stop now because I’ve just got home and found another shining example of their bureaucratic f***-ups.
In common with several million people, I filed an on-line tax return recently. I used the self assessment website from HM Revenue and Customs, entered the relevant numbers, and let it work out how much tax I owed. And the good news was that it calculated that I was owed several hundred pounds. Bonus! I like that sort of tax return but sadly my joy was not to last long. A few days after I received my refund and the 31 January tax return payment deadline had passed, I received a letter explaining that there was a mistake on my return and that I now owed the Revenue some money as a result of having been over-refunded. I thought it was too good to be true but I’d just put in the numbers that the system asked for – how was I to know that the line on my PAYE coding notice that said tax underpaid from a previous year was being reclaimed in my tax code was a complete fallacy? Hey – I only read it from an official Government document… (you may detect a sense of sarcasm… it may be the lowest form of wit but it’s also entirely deliberate).
So I phoned HM Revenue and Customs to check that I wouldn’t be fined for late payment as it was their mistake, to which the response was “How do I know it is a Revenue and Customs mistake?” and my answer was “Because your website calculated my tax bill!” but knowing that resistance is futile, that the tax man is always the first debt that should be paid (and that a smaller refund was better than nothing) I repaid the balance of my account in order to avoid interest and a fine.
Today, I received a final demand from HM Revenue and Customs. To their credit (excuse the pun!), it was issued on the day I made payment but it was issued on 16 February – just a five days (three working days) after they wrote to tell me that I had been overpaid. What’s worse though is that the final demand was for payment by 28 February and was sent by Royal Mail second class post and not delivered until today – 3 March – a whole 16 days (12 working days) later and after the payment deadline! According to Google Maps the postie could have walked the 217 miles from the HMRC offices in Sunderland to my house in a little under 3 days… so what took the Royal Mail so long to deliver it with the aid of some trucks and vans (no wonder they are losing so much business custom)?
I suspect that the final demand, although dated 16 February was not posted until much later, by which time my account had been settled. Which begs the question, why can’t HMRC (or anyone else sending out bills) wait a few days to receive payment before issuing final notices?
Right, time to pack up my soapbox. I found that cathartic and if you’re still reading I hope you did too.