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.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Nice Little Earner

Oh what a funny old world we live in.

The global economy is going "tits up".

A major Belgium bank is about to fall over and precipitate another banking crisis.

The Greeks are about to default, and the Euro experiment will end in tears.

Meanwhile, in the good old UK, HMRC are busying themselves working out how to screw ever more money out of the hapless taxpayers ("customers" as HMRC likes to refer to them).

What terrific wheeze have they come up with this time?

It's a real humdinger!

Fines for late submissions of paper self assessment tax returns.

In the event that HMRC record a paper submission as being received on/after 1 November, they will issue the hapless taxpayer an automatic fine of £100.

Ker Farking Ching!

Do you want to know the best bits?

The fine will stand even if there is no tax to pay, or the tax due is paid on time!

Oh, and it gets better, if you submit a paper statement late but then submit a return online on time.......will HMRC cancel the fine?

Will they fark!

Ker Farking Ching!

HMRC will doubtless claim that this is to "encourage" us to be on time with our returns.

Fair enough, if we were working for them.

But hang on a minute, don't we pay HMRC to work for us?

Aren't we called "customers" by HMRC?

It's a funny old world and no mistake.

Oh, and by the way, given the ramshackle nature of the internal post system within HMRC and the financial incentive to record a paper return as being "late", do you trust them to be honest wrt the date of receipt?
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34 comments:

  1. Leaves Tax Payers feeling like a one legged arse kicker......

    ReplyDelete
  2. Revolving Dawes?
    Melanie off to cabinet Office...

    HMRC is a great place to work, management are that proficient that they have to be reminded in their 20/20 mag about how to treat staff...
    Awards have been presented at the great Lawress Hall award ceremony...
    The staff survey has been launched and staff positively encouraged to participate with no threats, implied or otherwise...
    And then todays blog shows how Customer Centric the 103rd are...
    What next, well they still have to lose a minimum of 13000, how? Ask for volunteers and take a step back or be flattened in the rush!

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  3. "do you trust them to be honest wrt the date of receipt?"

    I do hope you are not implying that HMRC staff would hold back post to fail the cut off date to kick in a charge against the taxpayer.
    That's really taking the conspiracy theory too far, I know we can fark it up ocasionaly but hey?

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  4. "do you trust them to be honest with the date of receipt?"

    I think you are taking on the mindset of a HMRC manager here, the staff on the shop floor (so to speak) are doing the best job they can with the limitations placed on them by the senior managers. Most HMRC staff do the best they can for the taxpayers irrespective of the bullsh*t they have to put up with. We are bullied, abused and belittled at every opportunity by our bosses so we do not need comments of this type. I thought Ken was meant to be on our side.

    This sort of comment is not helpful.

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  5. "This sort of comment is not helpful."

    Maybe, but if the "the staff on the shop floor" where told to stamp letters with a date later than actually received would they stand up against the order or simply carry it out?

    And before anyone jumps on this post lets remember the "the staff on the shop floor" where the ones telling people nothing was wrong with the system that generated all the incorrect tax codes even though they knew there was a problem.

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  6. "Maybe, but if the "the staff on the shop floor" where told to stamp letters with a date later than actually received would they stand up against the order or simply carry it out?"

    Not one member of staff that I know would agree with doing this, its appalling that this is even being suggested.

    "And before anyone jumps on this post lets remember the "the staff on the shop floor" where the ones telling people nothing was wrong with the system that generated all the incorrect tax codes even though they knew there was a problem."

    Again, I work in a CC and we were told from the most senior of senior managers that the system was "working to design". We were told to put the codes right and not to apportion blame. I personally have never ever lied to a taxpayer.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Scoot

    Why did you remove your comment?

    Ken

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  9. "Not one member of staff that I know would agree with doing this, its appalling that this is even being suggested."

    I would like to believe this but I am not sure they would actually stand up against it. History shows the staff do as they are instructed in order to keep the management off their backs.

    "Again, I work in a CC and we were told from the most senior of senior managers that the system was "working to design". We were told to put the codes right and not to apportion blame. I personally have never ever lied to a taxpayer."

    Glad to hear it although I think you are living in a different world to a lot of others who work in call centers because they knew the system was not working but still told tax payers it was working.

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  10. Dear Naïve, or is it Dear Sarcastic?

    HMRC staff have deliberately withheld items to delay the date of receipt, it is still a common practice where they can get hold of items promptly. Before they stopped giving receipts at a counter there was often a delay of as much as 10 days before an inspector (working 20 yards away, on the next floor) received a letter that was delivered straight away by one of the counter staff; even when one of the counter staff immediately returned to report that they’d personally given it to the stated inspector!

    Speak to HMRC staff that used to process tax returns and they will tell you the stories of piles of unprocessed tax returns trashed by staff….then there are the letters and other communications that have also been trashed!!!

    Many differing but similar stories have been posted here by HMRC staff.

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  11. I give up on this board, its clearly not for HMRC employees as well, its only to belittle and moan at the staff. I get enough of that in the CC!

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  12. "I give up on this board, its clearly not for HMRC employees as well, its only to belittle and moan at the staff. I get enough of that in the CC!"

    If you cannot accept criticism then you are probably working for the wrong organisation.

    ReplyDelete
  13. @12.29

    "Speak to HMRC staff that used to process tax returns and they will tell you the stories of piles of unprocessed tax returns trashed by staff"

    Perhaps you would care to elaborate on your source for this accusation?

    Never heard these stories myself.........

    Perhaps from the same source as the great HMRC postal conspiracy -see posts in the recent past????

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  14. I am not the poster @12.29 and although I am not aware of tax returns being trashed I am reliable informed by a member of HMRC staff that tax payer letters received have been disposed of in the past.

    @15:56 may have not heard this before but that does not mean it is a false accusation. If this is the same poster as @10:32 then they will probably struggle to believe HMRC staff ever do anything wrong anyway.

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  15. Most of the remaining, non-fixed/short term contract staff are of the old school and find the current working practices imposed by management abhorrent.
    There is a thin line between manipulating statistics and actively causing people to break the law.
    What you need to look at are the reasons why law breaking might or might not be occurring - start with pay and promotion and awards. Then ask yourself what is the chance of being found out, would anyone care and what, if anything would the punishment be?
    Meanwhile, the staff will go on doing as they were told, would you want to be out of a job in this climate.
    So don't try and pin it on the workers, they are merely responding to yet another panic measure.

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  16. "Speak to HMRC staff that used to process tax returns and they will tell you the stories of piles of unprocessed tax returns trashed by staff….then there are the letters and other communications that have also been trashed!!!"

    That would explain why post on hand levels are at an all time record low & the telephones are permantly engaged!!!

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  17. "That would explain why post on hand levels are at an all time record low & the telephones are permantly engaged!!!"

    People ringing to see when their letters will get a response.

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  18. @16.18

    No, not the same poster. Just concerned that accusations of serious law breaking are made unproven and unchallenged. Of course, that will make me " an HMRC toady" to the more slack jawed who post their Roswellesque fantasies here.......

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  19. "No, not the same poster. Just concerned that accusations of serious law breaking are made unproven and unchallenged. Of course, that will make me " an HMRC toady" to the more slack jawed who post their Roswellesque fantasies here......."

    Fair point but I imagine it would be hard to come up with a theory about HMRC that did not turn out to be true.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Working in practice, with a boss who likes to occasionally hire ex-HMRC personnel, I get to learn of many odd views and work practises that are prevalent within HMRC. I also get to hear some interesting inside information on certain Officers/management which usually confirms what I know from investigations.

    Example;
    HMRC staff were given piles of returns to “copy” into the computer but due to inexperience/poor attitude of some staff/unrealistic targets/staples in the paper returns/problems with the entries on the returns etc etc, those targets were not met. Rather than face the consequences of their managers learning of their failure to meet targets for processing returns, near the end of the day they (the staff, who did not inform upon those wrong doers because it was a “them and us” situation with the management) simply “got rid” of those unprocessed returns that they knew couldn't be processed. This carried on and am reliably informed it occurred at other tax offices. More than one ex-HMRC staff member has confirmed these practises. Apparently it still goes on, though one staff member was fired when caught.

    The organisation is so badly managed, and has been for so long, that many areas of malpractice occur. Easy to hide when most statistics are corrected/adjusted/fiddled by someone.

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  21. The difference between conspiracy theory and reality?
    Say something often enough aand loud enough and with conviction and those that want to will believe.
    Those that do not fall for this tactic tend not to be the wallflowers but the seekers of the truth "seek and ye shall find..."
    There does not appear to have been anything posted on this site that has not been true, except for the mumblings of the management apologists. I believe what was said about getting rid of post, I also believe the reasoning behind it. Wherein lies the fault - recruitment, management, pacesetter, statistics?
    Who knows?
    103rd for how much longer...?
    Sad but true.

    ReplyDelete
  22. @07.17

    "Say something often enough aand loud enough and with conviction and those that want to will believe."


    Later on...........

    "I believe what was said about getting rid of post, I also believe the reasoning behind it."


    Believe that calls for a quick QED.

    Bet his lips were moving as he typed.

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  23. I know this isn't something that's particularly encouraged on this site, but let's just think this through.

    Let's be clear: it's being suggested that the logging of returns might be deliberately and systematically delayed in order to impose penalties. We're talking about fraud, not incompetence. It's different from the scenario alleged at 2237 yesterday; that sounds like management incompetence and/or staff fraud motivated by the desire to escape disciplinary action. What's being alleged here is deliberate defrauding of the public* to maximise revenue through the imposition of penalties.

    It's been variously suggested that this fraud would occur as a result of:
    - individual staff members, motivated by the desire to impose penalties, deliberately delaying processing of their own volition and/or
    - a deliberate management policy.

    The question nobody seems to have considered, however, is: what's in it for them?

    Take the staff theory first. The people who process these returns are targeted on the number of returns they process, certainly not on the number of penalties they impose. In fact, as the imposition of this sort of penalty is an automated process, it's doubtful whether statistics for penalties relating to returns processed by particular individuals/teams would even be collated. There is simply no incentive to do this.

    As for this being a deliberate management policy, I can see how it might on the face of it seem desirable. However, think of the risk: benefit ratio around such a policy.

    ...

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  24. ...

    6.9m/78% of SA taxpayers filed online, on time for 2010/11. Let's assume that all the rest filed on time on paper (which of course is improbable as some would have actually filed late both on paper and electronically) and that the numbers will be similar next year (also unlikely as the numbers filing on paper is falling), and management decided to fraudulently impose a penalty on all 1.9 million of them. A benefit of £190 million for this fraud may sound like a lot of money but we mustn't forget that, as well as being an outrageously high estimate for several reasons, it would be in the context of nearly half a trillion of revenues a year that HMRC collects.

    Now look at the risk side. Commentators on this site (ironically one where HMRC has been accused of treating people as guilty until proven innocent) are clearly pretty concerned about this possibility without there being any evidence whatsoever that such a policy actually exists. Could you imagine the fuss if it did? The tabloids would have a field day that would make the child benefit data loss look like a roaring success for HMRC and any managers found to be responsible would be pretty lucky to stay out of prison.

    The seriousness of a risk is a function of consequences and likelihood. It would clearly have grave consequences for management if it got out that they had such a policy, but how likely would it be to get out? If tens of thousands of the least motivated staff in the country were instructed to deliberately delay the logging of returns (regardless of whether management gave penalties as a reason) would someone leak it? Hmmm, let me think...

    HMRC senior management don't do staff morale, they're far too close to big business and they have a hell of a lot to learn about PR, but if there's one thing they do know about it's arse-covering. A policy like this just wouldn't be in their interests.

    Stew G

    (* -I'll avoid the "c" word here because I'd no doubt get roasted, but "taxpayers" doesn't cover it because, as Ken pointed out, people who don't owe tax are potentially within scope.)

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  25. "As for this being a deliberate management policy, I can see how it might on the face of it seem desirable. However, think of the risk: benefit ratio around such a policy."

    What risk?

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  26. @1838,

    I trust my 1807 post answers your question. Sorry if I didn't make it sufficiently clear that it was a continuation of my 1805 one.

    Stew G

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  27. Here is a long list of post delivered to HMRC going missing, and HMRC claiming no record of it eg http://www.ion.icaew.com/Taxforum/19778#164071 :

    "error or mistake claim hand delivered to Truro tax office on 26 January 2010. Chased up in March 2010 and told that they had never received the letter. Wrote to them about this on 30 March 2010, enclosing a duplicate. Chased by phone on 27 April 2010 and told that they would not be dealing with 30/3/10 post until 18 June 2010 (14 May 2010 if there is a refund due).

    I see from previous posts that HMRC losing error or mistake claims and then not dealing with it for ages is not an isolated case.

    This is not the only case of delays we have had in recent months."

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  28. Ken,

    Sure. It's cock-ups, incompetence, whatever. I don't think anyone here is arguing with the fact that parts of HMRC's operational side are a mess, and are unlikely to significantly improve any time soon with another few thousand staff get the boot. But to suggest that losing post like this is a deliberate ploy to prevent refunds/reliefs or to impose penalties is just ridiculous. For the reasons given above, there just aren't incentives to do it.

    I know you love your conspiracy theories, Ken, but I'm afraid this one just doesn't stack up. I'm not trying to excuse the cock-ups, but it is cock-ups that cause delays like these, not deliberate policy.

    Stew G

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  29. Stewie

    Both the NHS and Police (eg http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6736505/Police-force-tricks-to-fiddle-crime-figures.html) have been incentivised to fiddle figures in order to meet targets/obtain budgets/bonuses etc.

    This will end up the same way, given the pressure on HMRC to increase tax take.

    Do recall that there are comments on this site from staff etc that pacesetter and survey results are manipulated.

    Ken

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  30. Kenny,

    Fascinating stuff, but unfortunately utterly irrelevant.

    I've seen the allegations from staff about manipulation of figures for reporting purposes. I have to say that, particularly with regards to Pacesetter-type statistics, they sound very plausible (though I'd be very interested to hear what type of stats people consider are being manipulated - I'm surprised you haven't invited contributors to expand further).

    However, you're comparing apples with pears for the following reasons:

    1) The allegations made on this site, and those in the Torygraph article, concern manipulation of reported statistics. The conspiracy that you're describing is not about how the results of operations are reported, but rather about implementing a policy about how those operations are conducted.

    2) People say there's lies, damn lies and statistics. It's often possible to 'manipulate' statistics, and in particular the way they're presented, to create a false impression without actually lying. Journalists are, of course, past masters at this. This is what the police seem to have been up to as described in the Telegraph and I'm pretty sure the alleged Pacesetter stats manipulation falls in the same category. Both are misleading but, as you might put it, perfectly legal, though you seem to rightly consider it to be morally questionable*. A deliberate policy of lying about the date on which returns are filed is, however, out and out fraud.

    ...

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  31. ...

    3) Although manipulation of statistics is not what this imagined conspiracy is about, it's interesting that you've brought them into it. If a policy of deliberately and falsely claiming that returns had been filed late, the stats would show a massive increase in the number of late filed returns. HMRC management would then have to explain this to the public accounts committee, etc. (In fact, HMRC has been targeted on reducing the number of late returns in the past.)

    4) Following on from 3, the alleged police and Pacesetter manipulations share one feature that this imagined conspiracy lacks: the interests of those involved are aligned. It may be in the interests of the HMRC junior/middle managers to fiddle Pacesetter stats to show that they're hitting targets. This is also good for senior managers for the same reason. Similarly, it is in the interest of both local constables and chiefs of police to be able to point to lower serious crime stats within their spheres of influence. HMRC staff inputting SA returns, on the other hand, couldn't care less whether late filing penalties are imposed and, as explained at #3 above, late filing is contrary to the interests of senior management.

    Yet more reasons why this conspiracy theory just doesn't stack up.

    Stew G

    (* - though interestingly you appear to use legality as the sole determinant of morality when it comes to tax planning - it's interesting that you give Parliament so much moral authority given your apparent and understandable suspicions about politicians.)

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  32. The original statement wasn’t that HMRC staff/Officers set out to commit fraud, but that:

    1. Staff disposed of tax returns to meet a target, thereby avoiding trouble with their boss. If you know people within HMRC then you'll no doubt know how many times (daily), over many years, their managers repeatedly threaten their continued employment!

    2. The Officers, yes plural, repeatedly lied about the date they received correspondence/appeal notices in order to continue a vendetta against the agent, and even used the supposedly late appeal notice as a countermeasure to pressure the taxpayer into withdrawing the appeal. Acts supported by the area and regional managers who simply avoided or ignored correspondence and communications.

    This sort of nonsense still goes on and I hear other examples of it across the country. In my opinion most HMRC management, by either choosing to perpetrate such acts or by tolerating such from others within HMRC, are corrupt.

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  33. @8 October 2011 11:26

    Which agent are you referring to?

    Paranoia & Co?

    Are you even talking about self assessment returns?

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  34. Oh, and it gets better, if you submit a paper statement late but then submit a return online on time.......will HMRC cancel the fine?

    Will they fark!


    Er... that's because you've....ummm.. gosh how can I put this so even the simpletons on this site will understand it..... could it be that you've already filed it?

    Could you imagine if you tried that with your school homework? "Sorry sir. I know I missed this weeks deadline but if I complete next weeks homework on time and hand this weeks in with that you'll mark both and I won't get detention will I?

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