Friday, 10 December 2010

Price of HMRC's delays in dealing with post

New Reiver House in Galashiels. This recently ...Image via Wikipedia
As we know, our friends at HM Revenue and Customs don't look at their post for months after it is received. This has many detrimental effects on the relationships with taxpayers, and also those who have decided to come in from the cold and pay the tax they should have been paying for several years.

If I have a new client who wishes to own up to income received which should have been declared, he or she probably doesn't have a Universal Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and the only way of applying for one is by post. At the same time one wants to send a “marker” letter to HMRC to start the process of getting the individual into the system and establish it is at their own volition in case (a long shot) HMRC get their oar in first. That would theoretically increase the penalty potential which one wants to keep to a minimum.

The trouble is that the first response from HMRC will be considerably delayed. It takes months to get a UTR. It takes an age for HMRC to respond to a marker letter after they eventually read it and then allocate it to a case officer. You might say that offenders deserve what comes to them but once someone has decided to make a clean breast of things, I think it is only fair that they can get matters settled and get their tax (and interest and penalties) paid.

Of course HMRC also wait longer for their money because of their tardiness in dealing with these matters even after we get as far as being supplied with HMRC red spot stickers to mark our correspondence as more urgent than that from the hoi polloi. It just doesn't seem right, but HMRC apparently have 15 million open cases which means issues of any sort including over- and under-payment matters that haven't been resolved. They also have more unresolved than they know about with all those confessions sitting in their pile of post.
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