Friday, 22 October 2010

HMRC are broken

A pensioner who completes his own Tax Returns has been sent the Short Tax Return for the last few years. A Short Return is a paper form which has to be submitted annually by 31st October. He gets all his stuff together and sends in his Return at the beginning of August. Fairly promptly the Return is sent back to him. He is informed that as his foreign dividends exceeded £300 and are nearly £400 annually (because he had more than one account with a bank taken over by our Spanish friends, Santander) he has to fill in the full version Return. Do they enclose a full form for him to complete? No.

The pensioner telephones HMRC and after half an hour or so, gets to speak to someone, to ask for a form. None arrives.

The pensioner calls me (he is a relative) and tells me the tale. He tells me he is worried; he followed up his call with a letter on 1st September but had heard nothing. The October deadline is approaching. I told him that HMRC were unlikely to read his letter of 1st September until around Christmas. He said “I suppose I will have to try to file on-line”. Indeed that will be the case by the time I get to see him to help, otherwise he will have a £100 fine.

I don't like this blog to be a continual whinge about HMRC. However, most of the non-technical stuff I have to deal with is about this sort of nonsense where HMRC are simply not delivering any sort of service to those they have the temerity to call customers. The problem is partly about money, but many of the basic failures appear to be to do with management, organization and common sense. After all, if you tell a taxpayer he should fill in a different form, surely you should send him that form?

Good grief!
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