HMRC aggression masks its own ineptitude
I am thinking of opening a private dining room here at Yellowtail Towers. It is not to entertain clients you understand, that would not be tax-efficient.
But inviting my tax inspector for a cosy lunch might be very tax advantageous indeed. He could pop in on the days he is not having lunch at ‘Golden Socks’ or one of the other big banks nearby. It has certainly got to be better than dealing with the bruisers that I normally have to deal with.
I distrust HM Revenue & Customs and its systems since I discovered it once applied a PAYE payment destined for one year into another year, on a whim. This resulted in an overpayment in one year and an underpayment in another. This did not come to light until it threatened to send the bailiffs round. After many hours on the telephone HMRC finally found the missing money, sitting as an overpayment in a previous year. But could it see their error, or manage to reallocate the payment to the correct year? No. The rigmarole I had to go through to put this right is beyond comprehension.
A couple of years later and it has done something similar, this time with knobs on. In one incident it arbitrarily allocated payments from a previous year to the current year, making it look as though I have underpaid one year and overpaid another year. They say they called me about it but I have no record, although I did see a refund from HMRC? I should have queried it but I did not.
So then HMRC sent a man with regulation black jeans and high-leg Dr Martens who demanded payment for the previous year. He said he was not leaving until I made payment by debit card – I believed him. When I explained the sequence of events his tone became less aggressive. Then he called the collector of taxes office on my behalf and got the same shoddy service, the mind-numbing music, endless menu options, until finally he was cut off. Nice to see there is no favouritism.
However, the repayment it made in the current year was also wrong and it refunded around £140 too much. So HMRC sent a demand for it. No explanation, just a demand. I called and asked to run through the payments for the last 18 months, just to clarify things once and for all. Only it does not do that anymore. If you want a payment history, you have got to use the online service. But despite already being registered for the Government Gateway, it will not let me in.
Unable to phone or go online I wrote to HMRC, asking why I could not access my account online and in the meantime to provide a breakdown. This morning I received a letter. Apparently HMRC called but I was not in. It did not leave a message. The letter has not addressed the online issue, but I have been sent an unfathomable list of figures. Oh, and a paragraph asking me to pay up or they will send the boys round.
It is all too aggressive. I quite like the idea of sorting things out over a nice entrecote and a bottle of claret. It might be cheaper too.
I quite like the idea of sorting things out over a nice entrecote and a bottle of claret. It might be cheaper too.