Looking at the on-line record of one of my clients the other day I noticed that a new underpayment of tax had appeared amounting to just under £500. So what, you may say. It is well known that HMRC have been trawling through their PAYE records looking for underpayments.
This one is different. Firstly, the client has been submitting Tax Returns for very many years though not until the last few with my firm's help. Secondly, the liability shown is apparently for the year ended 5th April 2000 (yes, 1999-2000) when the client self-assessed and actually (according to this record) received a repayment, which is now indicated to have been excessive.
There is no record of the underpayment on the separate Statement of Account on-line, and of course I called HM Revenue & Customs. The person I spoke to clearly thought I was mad. Her records only went back to 2003-04 (which one might expect), and as she could not see the screen I was looking at she really did seem to think I was imagining the whole thing. “It's right here in front of me” I said. “Well, I can't see it. It's not on the Statement.” “Yes, I know, but it's on my Agent's record for the client”.
There are times when if we were Basil Fawlty we would beat our head on the desk, but having had a word with her manager the HMRC person said she would send me a copy of the statement not showing this alleged underpayment and a copy of which I have already. This action will presumably allow HMRC to record that they have dealt with the issue, but probably the screen will show this supposedly uncollected tax forever. Of course I will not keep looking at it as I have other things to do, and yes, I could claim concessional relief, but there is no point as no one in HMRC can see the record even if I can.
I could rant about the time wasted, but it has given me a chuckle and reminded me of Basil with the absurdity of it all.