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, 19 July 2010

Death By A Thousand Cuts


The Independent reports that HMRC has warned the government that planned cuts to the public sector, if applied to HMRC, will result in a lower tax take.

Treasury minister David Gauke was warned by HMRC in a private meeting earlier this month that the cuts, particularly redundancies, would be counterproductive.

This presents a golden opportunity for the government to radically simplify the tax system, thus making it easier for taxpayers and HMRC to "administer" taxes and reduce the associated costs.

However, politicians by their very nature abhor "simplification" as it makes them "redundant" in the eyes of the voters.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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47 comments:

  1. After the shit, the warnings and strikes over the last 4 or 5 years, these people decide in July 2010 to give a warning to Gauke thats things might not work out too good?

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  2. If the powers that be concentrated on getting rid of the useless crap in middle and upper management and left the Indians to get on with the jobs they were trained to do then more tax would be collected saving the need to continually hike tax rates. All for simplifying the rules too and stop throwing money away on useless processes that further screw up the system.
    In the last five years in Contact Centres alone several useless and unneccessary empires have been building up dishing out all sorts of crap that is utterly useless in connection with collection and disbursement of Revenue

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  3. If you get rid of the middle and upper management would the service actually improve? or would there just be less stress for HMRC employees?

    My point is that the so called Indians and their unions need to pull their fingers out of their butts and take on the middle and upper management and get things sorted out. Then we all may see improvments with HMRC services.

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  4. Exactly what support would be forthcoming from the great British public for staff in HMRC if they actually took on middle and upper maagement? How do you propose they do this?

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  5. Exactly what support would be forthcoming from the great British public for staff in HMRC if they actually took on middle and upper management?

    None, the great British public only sees an organisation that they cannot get through to on the telephone, you take weeks/months to respond to letters and your online systems are crap. And a large part of the public will not understand that the taxes you collect actually get used to pay them tax credits etc.

    How do you propose they do this?

    Not our problem, sort it out with your union and if they will not tackle the problem then change unions.

    Please do not see this as an attack on the front line guys and girls. I sympathise with you as I know very well what it is like working for HMRC but only you can deal with the problem not the public. You will never get support from the public when it comes to pay and pensions but you may (I admit it is a big may) get support if you took on HMRC regarding the working conditions and the affect they have on the service provided.

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  6. And so I should wear myself out trying to change things because?? IF and when the public at large stand side by side with staff and really work together to change things, give me a call (if you can get through). Until then, I'll work with the resources, processes, systems and instructions that my employer gives me.

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  7. To the 19 July 2010 18:17 poster.

    It makes no difference to most people if you try and do anything about it or not. We will just carry on working and paying our taxes and you can just carry on working with the resources, processes, systems and instructions that your employer gives you.

    Time will tell who has a happier working life.

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  8. Hate to disappoint - I love my job. I don't hate going in, things could be better but they could be worse. It pays the bills and I like the people I work with. Good enough for me

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  9. 19 July 2010 18:35, is your name Strathie?

    All joking aside, I am glad to hear you enjoy your job. It is just a shame you are in a minority.

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  10. "Until then, I'll work with the resources, processes, systems and instructions that my employer gives me."

    That's the whole point isn't it as long as staff continue to work like robots, instead of human beings and don't question the rediculous schemes management invent,to justify their existance which only makes things worse, then nothing will change. So you just keep on the way you are going coz that's it Baa.....

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  11. My point is that the so called Indians and their unions need to pull their fingers out of their butts and take on the middle and upper management and get things sorted out. Then we all may see improvments with HMRC services.

    We cannot take on the useless middle and upper management. We can't even get them to take notice, or care, about the most basic customer dis-service and sort it out. It's like banging your head against a brick wall.

    We just go to work, try to give customer service, despite all the obstacles management put in our way. For this we get crapped on from a great height from those above & also take flack from Joe Public.

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  12. So you just keep on the way you are going coz that's it Baa.....

    Well if you call going into work, providing the best service you can within the constraints we have then I'll happily stay in baa baa land thank you.

    As I said, I work with good people on the shop floor, we're a team. And noone, neither management nor the public can take that feeling away from us.

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  13. 19 July 2010 19:17, If you are not under the same pressures as many others then maybe there is room for cuts after all.

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  14. The serious point is that if the staff who collect the taxes are reduced, the tax take will reduce.
    For example in my office we used to have 30 VAT officers who visited business to audit their VAT returns, now there are six. On average we bring in each year in extra VAT around £500k each, so it is not rocket science to work out that if there were more of us, more of the VAT due to the Treasury would be collected.
    The present Government's blinkered attittude is that Civil Service = waste of space,but to neglect to collect tax that is properly due is no less than serious negligence, unfortunately the senior HMRC managers do not dare say this to the politicians for fear of upsetting their cosy relationship with them. On the HMRC Intranet the Chief Executive of HMRC said that Civil Servants have to play their part in reducing the deficit - by implication by losing their jobs -yet she completely ignores the contribution that those of us who work in VAT make to this deficit reduction by our activity.

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  15. oh trust me we are - but no b******* will get/put us down.

    Just because we aren't morose and moaning doesn't mean to say we're not under pressure and are over staffed. It just means we've been in too long to worry - seen it all before and if we live long enough will see it all again. My advice to all HMRC employees on the front line is to do the best job you can and hold your head up.

    The public have got the Department they want and deserve. They want cuts in the Civil Service and they want bodies on the end of the telephone. They want the phones answered but also want post worked.

    So while I'm answering the phone I can't be working post.

    Not my problem, not my fault. Decent days work for a decent days pay. I can look at myself in the mirror, that's good enough for me.

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  16. "if you call going into work, providing the best service you can within the constraints we have then I'll happily stay in baa baa land thank you."

    Well good for you you won't get no credit for it what a self sacrificing soul you are.

    "I work with good people on the shop floor, we're a team. And noone, neither management nor the public can take that feeling away from us."

    You obviously don't work in a Call Centre - you must be a paper shuffler, you know the main office workers who have a backlog of 6 - 9 mnths!! If you are a Call Centre worker then you must be a rare species of sheep with an even rarer species of Baa manager who isn't a jumped up pipsqueak who wants to climb the ladder at staffs expense and thinks the HMRC processes are The Bible written by God to be obeyed!!

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  17. completely ignores the contribution that those of us who work in VAT make to this deficit reduction by our activity


    silly me, I thought those of us in direct taxes played a part in the debt reduction, silly me!!!

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  18. If you are a Call Centre worker then you must be a rare species of sheep with an even rarer species of Baa manager

    I am the baa manager - with a decent hard working team, whose efforts I acknowledge and appreciate. And no I'm not trying to climb a ladder at their expense. I'm afraid of heights.

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  19. I am the baa manager - with a decent hard working team, whose efforts I acknowledge and appreciate. And no I'm not trying to climb a ladder at their expense. I'm afraid of heights.

    I can believe the part about the hard working team but the rest is probably bollocks.

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  20. "If you are a Call Centre worker then you must be a rare species of sheep with an even rarer species of Baa manager who isn't a jumped up pipsqueak who wants to climb the ladder at staffs expense and thinks the HMRC processes are The Bible written by God to be obeyed!!"

    Oh and I forgot to add I do work in a Call Centre and I do realise porcesses are required to work efficiently but some of the processes the middle management and above come up with are unbeleivable stupid!!

    I now see one amongst us is a Baa Manager good for you if your team are happy. Where do you work? you can't possibly work where I do as managers like you are Extremely Rare!! "like Hens teeth"

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  21. Hi All,

    I have made a few posts above that may have offended or upset people around here. For that I am glad, this site is actually the only place you can get a quick response from HMRC.

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  22. “completely ignores the contribution that those of us who work in VAT make to this deficit reduction by our activity”

    Nobody within HMRC should be thinking of deficit reduction, just implementing the laws correctly in order to ensure that people pay their correct taxes.

    Trevor Scott

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  23. From the "old tired, demoralised CC worker" to the Baa Manager.

    This is my last post and it's the most common unanswered question

    When will HMRC realise that callers are taxpayers and not just people to be fobbed off with poor service and a disfunctional management system? !!

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  24. This is my last post and it's the most common unanswered question

    Have you found an escape hatch?

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  25. Sorry - I am not denigrating those who collect direct tax - it's just I am only familiar with my own area of the Dept -anyone whose job is identifying extra revenue is just as important - the point is why do the managers not stand up for us ?

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  26. 19 July 2010 19:32 Posted "Not my problem, not my fault. Decent days work for a decent days pay. I can look at myself in the mirror, that's good enough for me."

    The trouble is the level of complaints regarding HMRC and it's service tends to suggest you are not doing a decent days work. And the "Not my problem, not my fault" part sums HMRC staff up quite well.

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  27. the point is why do the managers not stand up for us ?

    Maybe it is because most of them are crap.

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  28. To the people that state that the people at the top of HMRC apparently care about the general public and the staff on the floor.

    This is absolutely laughable. I'll answer the first point first.

    For those people who have had a self assessment return in a year they were due a repayment via PAYE. Staff are forced to ask for the customer to fill out the return even if there wasn't any reason for someone to fill out a self assessment form in the first place.

    The reason being is that the new PAYE system won't let repayments be made if a self assessment return has been issued for that year.

    The general public could reasonably expect this design flaw to be removed - however the brewery was closed that day so HMRC 6 figure salary bods instead of trying an alternative venue for their pissup and actually fixing the problem (because it would be prohibitively expensive as it was not part of the job design given to the developers therefore they will not fix it) our boys in Telford have been forced to come up with imaginative ways to circumvent this with some success.

    If the circumvention is not successful - however - processing staff can always (according to my previous manager) fall back on the legislation that we can require anyone to complete a tax return for any reason.

    The second point to answer is that no one will feel sorry for us. Given the fact that under the last government reduced the number of people working for HMRC from 0.33% of the population to 0.23% over the past 5 years - the only complaint being that it took a few months to answer letters.

    The current government are threatening to reduce the staff numbers to between 0.18% and 0.14% of the population e.g. from 2333 staff per million employees to 1400 staff per million employees within a similar time frame.

    Meaning that each HMRC staff member has to look after 714 individual customers per year.

    If I was personally responsible for 700+ clients in any other company I could demand a salary of anywhere between 4 and 5 times my current annual wage packet.

    Kind of puts things in to perspective - doesn't it?

    (The above calculations are based on an average of 30,000,000 people working in the UK)

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  29. When will HMRC realise that callers are taxpayers and not just people to be fobbed off with poor service and a disfunctional management system? !!

    But you are part of HMRC - if an Advisor on my team has the expertise and knowledge to kill the call dead, then I would want them too and not fob them off with another number.

    BUT my biggest fear is that working in a CC, they've lost the ability and skill to be able to do that correctly now as things change all the time.
    And then, thought they've really tried to help, they've hindered they very person they were trying to help and will no doubt get slated for it, on here if nowhere else.
    So it's a catch 22.

    And actually Mr Scott - of course HMRC has to think about the deficit reduction - in this instance we are talking about the difference between what is owed to the Exchequer and what is paid.

    And finally

    the point is why do the managers not stand up for us ?

    Maybe it is because most of them are crap.

    19 July 2010 20:05

    So are some of the staff!

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  30. The trouble is the level of complaints regarding HMRC and it's service tends to suggest you are not doing a decent days work. And the "Not my problem, not my fault" part sums HMRC staff up quite well.

    People like you really need to fuck off and take a slice of lemon dipped in jalapeño and insert it in your anus to try and figure out the daily life of an average HMRC member of staff.

    HMRC staff have stopped caring because no one listened to them, they have become 'civil servants' in every sense of the word. The board rely on the fact that it's an unpopular department (by nature) to actually justify the fact that the independent survey scored them 96/96 govt departments.

    Please realise that for the HMRC worker even the complaints process is unworkable. If something is referred incorrectly by the standards that HMRC considers to be a complaint (e.g. only those which ask for financial redress get through) then there are at least 3 members of staff who will shred a junior member of staff to bits for something they tried to escalate through the proper processes in the first place.

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  31. BUT my biggest fear is that working in a CC, they've lost the ability and skill to be able to do that correctly now as things change all the time.

    As the partner of a CC team member I think you are on the right tracks here. They are not allowed to use the skills and knowledge they have built up but are forcd to use the canned answers on the CAG. The trouble is the CAG seems to be inadequate a lot of the time and simply does not cover all questions asked. My partner is constantly picked up for not using the CAG and yet in over 10 years of service has not had any complaints regarding the advice given (except from the manager who seems to get off on making their life hard)

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  32. People like you really need to fuck off and take a slice of lemon dipped in jalapeño and insert it in your anus to try and figure out the daily life of an average HMRC member of staff.

    I will try that next time I try and call HMRC, it will make the hanging on the telephone more interesting if nothing else.

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  33. When will HMRC realise that callers are taxpayers and not just people to be fobbed off with poor service and a disfunctional management system? !!

    But you are part of HMRC - if an Advisor on my team has the expertise and knowledge to kill the call dead, then I would want them too and not fob them off with another number.


    HMRC STAFF DO REALISE THIS. CALL CENTRE STAFF HOWEVER ARE GIVEN SUBSTANDARD WAGES AND HAVE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS GIVEN TO THEM BY THEIR MANAGERS E.G. THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE THEIR KNOWLEDGE.

    HMRC Contact Centre workers are constantly in a no-win situation. If they help someone - they are told off for spending too long on the phone. If they don't help someone - they are castigated for not spending enough time helping the customer.

    If they are a front line advisor and give tax advice that may benefit the taxpayer - even if that tax advice is widely available - again they are screwed and fear for their job - but if a 'team Leader' does the same thing in response to an escalated call - they are scott-free for helping the customer because they avoided a complaint.

    The whole of the HMRC appraisal system favours those who minimise the risk of senior management actually getting caught doing the wrong thing by pretending to implement the HMRC charter. Those that actually do the job they were employed to do get picked on for not being 'corporate'.

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  34. Well Said 19 July 2010 21:10, I am actually working with an HSE investigator regarding some of the points you made and the effects they have on peoples health.

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  35. I will try that next time I try and call HMRC, it will make the hanging on the telephone more interesting if nothing else.

    What is your burning question that can not wait more than 5 minutes to be answered for free by someone who is probably paid 1/2 or 3/4 your salary?

    We're all friends here - I'm interested in your query.

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  36. by pretending to implement the HMRC charter.

    Good Lord - I've worked for the Department for 31 years and didn't know we had one!!!!!

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  37. What is your burning question that can not wait more than 5 minutes to be answered for free by someone who is probably paid 1/2 or 3/4 your salary?

    You are indeed correct, 5 minutes is not long to wait, but it gets a bit much once you hit the 20/30 minutes level.

    Not sure about the 'Free' bit, I do pay tax and my telephone bill.

    We're all friends here - I'm interested in your query.

    My query is simple, why have I not had a reply to my complaint regarding the online system not working correctly. You see I have always been happy to do my bit by completing my return online but when the system fails and causes me to waste time hanging on the telephone I feel justified in moaning.

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  38. Good Lord - I've worked for the Department for 31 years and didn't know we had one!!!!!

    Were doooommmmeeeeddd

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  39. What is your burning question that can not wait more than 5 minutes to be answered for free by someone who is probably paid 1/2 or 3/4 your salary?

    No answer twenty minutes later. Based on most accountants fees I could have made a small fortune (enough to buy two meals at a posh restaurant outside London) in the time this accountant has taken to respond to my simple query.

    Not nice when the table is turned on you ****ing expenses account no-justification ****ers is it?

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  40. My query is simple, why have I not had a reply to my complaint regarding the online system not working correctly. You see I have always been happy to do my bit by completing my return online but when the system fails and causes me to waste time hanging on the telephone I feel justified in moaning.

    I will answer as honestly as I can without giving my identity away - the online services helpdesk have access to a different part of the system to the majority of HMRC staff (the govt gateway). If HMRC staff contact te online services helpdesk we are asked to tell the taxpayer to ring the OSH direct.

    However working in the area that I work in at the moment. I've noticed that a lot of errors in online filing are caused by validation errors e.g. people putting impossible numbers in to the free online filing software and wondering why errors crop up when someone has £3,000 income but have paid £4.500 tax for example.

    Not sure about the 'Free' bit, I do pay tax and my telephone bill.

    So do people who work for HMRC - funnily enough. They often have debt collectors chasing them for having such a substandard salary in this day and age.

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  41. No answer twenty minutes later. Based on most accountants fees I could have made a small fortune (enough to buy two meals at a posh restaurant outside London) in the time this accountant has taken to respond to my simple query.

    Not nice when the table is turned on you ****ing expenses account no-justification ****ers is it?


    Right on. Accountants charge by the minute even if the problem is their fault or not because for some reason they have convinced their clients that HMRC is the devil in all of their proceedings.

    Those same accountants (such as those from personal taxation services) take 40% of NHS workers tax relief in commission that their members could have got for free if they dealt witj HMRC direct - they are in a win-win situation as they make sure NHS workers give them a huge cut of their tax relief but if that nurse is underpaid (by having two jobs at the same time but filling out their P46 forms incorrectly) the nurses have no choice but to pay up because they have been drawn in by PTS's offer of repayment even though they do not suffer the consequenses of HMRC collection.

    PTS and other bulk repayment agents are the bane of HMRC AO's work life because however much we try to get these simple taxpayer mistakes written off - our superiors see differently and PTS suffer no consequence under their arrangements with their clients.

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  42. Thank you for your reply 19 July 2010 21:46, I appreciate your position regarding your identity.

    Unfortunatly, the problem I have is with the actual HMRC online SA system. The problem has been known about by HMRC since March 2010 but not detailed on the site until more recently (after I made my return). My complaint related to the fact that I was instructed by the website to call the SA helpline for information and the information I was given was incorrect. This in turn caused me to waste time getting things sorted out.

    Not sure about the 'Free' bit, I do pay tax and my telephone bill.

    So do people who work for HMRC - funnily enough.


    I think this one is getting a bit old hat now, do you honestly think that the tax HMRC staff pay actually covers all the costs of HMRC.

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  43. Unfortunatly, the problem I have is with the actual HMRC online SA system. The problem has been known about by HMRC since March 2010 but not detailed on the site until more recently (after I made my return). My complaint related to the fact that I was instructed by the website to call the SA helpline for information and the information I was given was incorrect. This in turn caused me to waste time getting things sorted out.

    I would hope that this reasonably gets sorted out for you. HMRC appeals teams are well aware of the various online filing problems that occurred this year and will try and be accommodating with regards to penalties as long as a paper return was filed in good time in the place of a return that couldn't be filed online for whatever reason.

    If that fails there is the 2nd stage review and the tribunals process.

    I think this one is getting a bit old hat now, do you honestly think that the tax HMRC staff pay actually covers all the costs of HMRC.

    Not at all, but I would also think that every other employer in the country probably does not have a business model that only covers the cost of paying their own staff.

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  44. probably does not have a business model that only covers the cost of paying their own staff.

    31 years and I didn't know that either!

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  45. probably does not have a business model that only covers the cost of paying their own staff.

    31 years and I didn't know that either!


    I was trying to make the point that the tax paid by HMRC staff obviously doesn't pay for all of the HMRC staff and the idea that a business model that relied only on paying its staff was bound to fail and therefore ludicrous ergo I wasn't agreeing the idea that tax on HMRC staff pays for itself (though perhaps the output achieved per staff member actually does!).

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  46. 19 July 2010 22:24 Sorry, but we are on different pages on this one. The return was submitted within 3 weeks of the tax year end and was all fine. Unfortunatly I needed to go back into the system after the submission was made but the system would not allow me to log back in and still won't even now.

    There are no penalties involved and as someone who files returns shortly after the year end I would be very upset to be even thinking about penalties and tribunals.

    To be honest I am only angry with the situation because I feel I have done my bit and because of technical problems at HMRC's end I was put in a position of having to waste time becuase I was mislead.

    Now you may think this is all a bit petty but what would happen if I mislead HMRC?

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  47. Well, that really set something going.
    Prof C Northcote Parkinson (of Parkinson's Law fame) described the universal phenomenon in all tax offices of the Standard Delay. The time it takes for a file to reach the top of the pile. He advocated that taxpayers work out the Standard Delay and send a new letter eac time the file was due to surface, thus ensuring it was never dealt with.
    Reading the comments about management brings to mind the Advertising man David Ogilvy. When a new manager was appointed to one of Ogilvy and Mather's offices he gave the appointee a russian doll. If the recipient opened all of the dolls the last one contained this message. If we each appoint someone greater than ourselves we become a company of giants. If we each appoint someone lesser than ourselves we become nothing. It seems only Tom Thumb need apply for HMRC management jobs.
    Last comment; over the past 45 years I have found that if you treat front line tax officials as human you generally find they are courteous and competent.

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