Even Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying “The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.”
Having submitted my tax return in the prescribed manner and before the prescribed time (well before the cut-off date I may add) I was dismayed yesterday morning to receive a letter from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (aka Sheriff of Nottingham reborn) containing details that I was being fined for non-submission although (and this is the really frustrating bit) they had received payment against my submission (I wonder if they are really that stupid to think I just sent them a random sum of money for the hell of it without reference to why I was doing it?)
I looked through my records and surely enough I had in my possession email confirmation from HMRC that not only had my submission been accepted but my tax payment taken as well. Double checking my bank account I could see clearly that the payment had left my account less than 24 hours after I made it – wish the Government could pay out as swiftly.
Needless to say I was a little vexed; actually I was totally “@#$#@# – ##$”
So I rang the help line (although that is an oxymoron). Five minutes of pre-recorded rubbish is followed by a explanation that you have to press 1 – if you want to make a payment, 2 – if you want to make a submission, 3 – If you want the previous two choices explained again etc etc. Eventually after my will to live had been completely lost I got through to a person (although I’m convinced this was a completely random event bearing little if any reference to the keypad choice I made).
This person then asked my total life history before, I can only surmise, looking at the computer screen in front of them in the hope that without any form of input it is going to miraculously present them with the answer to my query – either that or they only input garbage so garbage comes out (computer geeks will know this phrase well). After what seemed like months of deliberation they spoke, only to inform me, that they can’t deal with my query…..the computer says NO ! All they can tell me is to ring back to another department but then supply me with the same number I got through to them on. I tried to explain this but they have ceased to listen..their job with me is done !
So back I called, then came the pre-recording again – aaargh ! and the saga continued.
After spending over four and a half hours either listening to pre-recorded drivel or even worse talking with various complete incompetents who I began to think only had etch-a-sketches rather than actual computers in front of them, I finally got through to Lisa. She was a helpful young lady (my assumption is based purely on her voice sounding quite young as it wasn’t video calling). Within seconds she had established where the issue lay (she unlike her peers had obviously paid attention in the ‘click to get a different window on the computer’ course)…it had taken discussions with eleven people (in exactly the same department) to finally get HMRC to admit that it wasn’t my fault but a computer glitch at their end.
Did this resolve the issue…oh no…nothing is quite so straightforward. Despite confirmation it was just a sequence of digits having a bit of a hissy fit, I am now presented with having to write in to question the error providing evidence as to why I shouldn’t be fined (be quite funny to subpoena the HMRC mainframe). The powers that be in the tax-office will then consider my query and make a decision to uphold or indeed deny my request.
So, for something that wasn’t my fault I had to spend most of the working day establishing I was in the right but subsequently am still having to compile evidence to prove I am in the right. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty ?
It is no wonder that people don’t always support government officers who are currently (like most in the public sector) complaining about pay and working conditions, when the examples I dealt with (Lisa aside) don’t deserve anything apart from being first up against the wall come the revolution !
As I live very close to the centre of Sherwood Forest, I can only pray that Robin Hood comes out of retirement to give the New Sheriff a much-needed kick up the backside as I can’t bear the thought of having to go through this palaver all over again next year.
Anyway rant over…but in case Robin Hood is just a myth, does anyone know a good tax-haven to emigrate too?