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Taxing Conversations

March 5, 2013

After two weeks of trying, yesterday I managed to speak to a human being at the tax office. In fact, I got onto a bit of a roll and actually spoke to two people – both the tax problems sorted out in half an hour. I think it was Heidegger (or it might have been Ken Dodd) who said: “Dealing with the taxman is one sure head fuck”. By the end of the two conversations, I thought I’d appeared in an episode of The Thick Of It, without the royalties for my troubles.

The first call was about the very threatening letter I received on Saturday regarding non payment of the PAYE I have to collect from the support worker’s wages. It reminded me that they have the powers to enter my home and remove goods to the value of the outstanding debt. Receving direct payments to pay for a care package automatically brings about an encounter with the taxman. This letter was very confusing; all my payments are up to date. A nice lady answered the phone and I told her that I had paid the last quarter. We descended into panto for a couple of minutes of “Oh no you haven’t” and “Oh yes I have”. And then, it went like this:

Taxlady: Oh – I see what the problem is. You paid too early.
Me: Pardon me?
Taxlady: Yes. That’s what it is. If you pay early, these sort of problems can occur.
Me: You were going to send the bailiffs round because I paid too early.

There then followed a lengthy explanation about how their computer system only recognises payments on certain dates and even though, they have on record 3 payments for 3 quarters, they couldn’t possibly be expected to know that these payments were up to date. So, they have to assume, the payment hasn’t been made and that sets off their debt recovery process.

You can imaine how tickled I was by that explanation.

Next stop was to query my own personal tax account. Stupidly, I have always filed a paper return. I started to query if there was a problem when I didn’t receive a bill in December. They couldnt find my self assessment, so we had to waste a few weeks whilst I prepared another one and they processed it. I got the statement but still no bill or paying in slips two weeks ago. In the meantime, I have been receving weekly letters informing me that I am being charged for non payment of my tax. The third one that I received on Saturday informed me that my penalties now stand at £150! Same day, I received my PIN activation code to enable me to do all this on line. I checked my account and got quite a shock. It was massively in credit and I am due a repayment of over £1200.

So, on to the phone call and before I had a chance to explain anything, I received a warning that if I didn’t pay the fines immediately, they would mount up very quickly. I asked the woman to check how much tax was outstanding that I need to pay. There was a very long pause.

“Erm…. oh…..erm…..Mr Neary….. erm… have a large repayment due”

I clarified that I wasn’t going mad and that I was being fined for not paying anything when I haven’t got anything to pay ……

“Erm…. that would appear to be the case Mr Neary. Would you like me to arrange the repayment?”

After double checking that I wouldn’t arrive home to find my sofa and computer taken away because I haven’t paid something thats not due, we parted company.

Altogther now: “Happiness, Happiness. The greatest gift that I possess…….”


From → Personal Stuff

  1. We used to have the same problem here. Every year they would either send menacing letters demanding more money or try to give us money back and it would take months of phone calls and letters to sort out. One year I only resolved it by making a formal complaint.

    We are just a tiny organisation so we used to pay by sending a fax to the bank and it made sense to pay the tax and NI on the same day as the wages which was “too early”. This year we have switched to paying by phone and making the payment in the tax offices’ specified period. I am really hoping not to hear from the next year.

  2. Just catching up on your blog Mark, you must have really pissed off the Gods of bureaucracy in a past life I think…

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