HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Envelope Ban

Envelope Ban
HMRC is pushing ahead with its plan to force taxpayers to file VAT returns online.

Its latest tactic is to phase out pre-paid envelopes which it used to supply.

Malcolm Winston (UHY Hacker Young partner) is not impressed, he is quoted in the Birmingham Post:

"This is unfortunate timing as HMRC's recent data loss scandal is still fresh in everyone's mind. You would think that they would be a bit more sensitive to taxpayers' concerns before they tried to railroad them all into filing online.

There are still quite a few personal and business taxpayers who either don't have access to broadband or who are still very nervous about lodging sensitive financial information online

HMRC claim that the phasing out of pre-paid envelopes is in line with the private sector.

However, that is not a fair analogy, as people have a choice as to which private sector organisation they use.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Having struggled with my tax return over many years (part P40/part self employed) I was always able to visit my local tax office to get help putting the various figures in the proper places.
    1. My local tax office has closed and while the nearest office is in the County town (a mere 15 miles away), our congested roads mean that it will take an hour or more each way.
    2. Th phone help line is useless. I had no joy last year.
    3. The forms have been re-designed at the same time as the offices have been closed, so my hard won but limited knowledge is of no use. They didn't send the right forms anyway so I had to get them from the internet
    4. I tried to register online. The Government Gateway site refused to co-operate depite my entering all the information they gave me. I contacted the help number on the forms they sent and was directed to the HMRC site where I was able to retrieve my password and download some different forms.
    5. All this has taken weeks and I'm thoroughly pissed off. It's not that I earn zillions. My PAYE and other income still come in short of the national average. I'm tempted to not file my return and see how long it will take them to notice.
    Not having an envelope is the least of my troubles. Why so many changes all at once?

  2. Part of the Department's 5-year ambition is to "drive up performance". This is how they do it; make lots of changes so that nobody has a chance of keeping up. It applies to both Joe Public and HMRC employees alike. It's a farking shambles whichever way you look at it. Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling... are you listening!!!?

  3. As anyone with any sense in HMRC knows, this has got everything to do with saving money and absolutely nothing to do with helping the taxpayer. When you have a government that is bankrupt and cannot pay its employees, is it any surprise that it cannot afford pre paid envelopes?

  4. ...again this is merely the endproduct of the recent (3-ish years ago?) bidding war between the Govt and its opposition when both sides tried to look tough (and electable) by slashing Civil Service jobs (without looking at the efficiency of the organisations first).

    The consequence of this is that the people within HMRC are doing their level best to comply with the Govt's stupid job reduction targets BEFORE putting alternative (and proven)measures in place (which wouldn't happen because the money to invest in said measures, isn't there anyway).

    The upshot is no envelopes (because if you don't physically send the forms in then we can sack the keying staff), a reduction in local offices which means that we can employ kids off the street to man the call centres (most of whom don't stick at it because of the shit wages and conditions ).

    Instead of just moaning, ask your parliamentary candidates at the next election SPECIFICALLY what they would do to improve HMRC and all public services( and not the usual "make them more effecient" whitewash BS)

    Nothing will change without the voting publics' (and hence the politicians') becoming more supportive, but it seems to be ingrained in the British psyche that public services are nothing more than a scapegoat to be played around with, by politicians, when its most convenient, with the full agreement by the British public.

  5. Some don't have PCs or know how to use them and there are still plenty of rural areas without broadband.

    If people are forced to buy machines and pay phone/broadband costs just to cope with government requirements are they going to get a tax break to do so? I am aware there have been incentives to file online but they appear to be diminishing each year.

  6. Anon @ 22.41 wrote
    "The upshot is no envelopes (because if you don't physically send the forms in then we can sack the keying staff), "

    A tactic first used by Beeching. Change the train times so that no-one can use them, then cut the service because no-one was using it.

  7. ...precisely. and whilst the state of the railways (at the time) meant that something had to be done, it was overkill, to the point where 50ish years later we are starting to regret not investing in them when we could.
    "Those that forget the lesons of history are doomed to repeat them".