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, 20 September 2016

HMRC Sends Threatening SMS Messages


HMRC has now resorted to sending threatening text message warnings to taxpayers. These massages state that they are being “monitored” to ensure they pay on time.

The Telegraph reports that over 13,000 taxpayers, who fill in self-assessment tax returns, have taken part in trials in which they have been sent SMS messages to remind them to pay tax on time. The taxpayers (who had previously been contacted by HMRC about their debt) received three types of message in a trial run by the Government’s ‘nudge’ unit or Behavioural Insights Team.

A report from the team said:
The ‘Standard’ SMS message simply alerted the recipient to the debt and told them how to pay. 

The ‘Monitoring’ message pointed out that HM Revenue and Customs would be monitoring whether the debt was paid in the following week. 

The ‘Penalties’ message included the phrase, ‘Most people pay on time to avoid penalties’.” 
Seemingly the ‘monitoring’ message raised payment rates by 3.8 percentage points, and the ‘penalties’ message by 7 percentage points, or 20 per cent in relative terms.

The group also targeted other late taxpayers with other text messages including one that reminded them of the deadline and saying “you were late last time”.

All very well and cheap to send no doubt. However, many taxpayers are more than a little on edge when they receive communications from HMRC. Whilst a volunteer group may react in a calm and compliant manner, the wider demographic of taxpayers who haven't volunteered for this may not be so docile when the scheme is unleashed nationwide.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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39 comments:

  1. Scary stuff from an overbearing arm of the state. If you've had a cash flow issue (note to HMRC: it does happen in the real world) and you have been unable to make full payment on time on just one occasion but are otherwise compliant, its totally unacceptable for the state (HMRC) to be sending people filthy & distressing messages. THE TOP TIP IS: NEVER GIVE YOUR PHONE NUMBERS TO HMRC (you are under NO legal obligation to do so - always leave that part blank on your tax return too - and if they tell you otherwise they're lying).

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  2. Dear HMRC, in response;
    I am economically disadvantaged and have a temporary negative cash flow following a recent workforce imbalance correction whilst levering up my one man band.
    DILLIGAF?!

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  3. FYI, the infamous "Behavioural Insights Team" is now a limited company and contractor to HMRC (owned partly by employees, the government, and... an EBT (yes you read that right)).
    Look them up on Companies House.

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  4. Remind me why it's ok to not pay your tax on time and not contact HMRC. POA2 was due weeks ago. Debt Managemnnt Telephone Centre is easy to get through to compared to the contact centres. What happens when people don't pay their mortgages or loan repayments on time?

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    1. It depends what you mean by ok? The vast majority of people are registered to pay tax (and clearly hmrc to need to get their act together to deal with rogues who are not i.e. the criminal evaders). However, many of those vast majority who are registered will have cash flow problems at some point preventing them from paying in full on time. Sadly its the real world of being self employed and something hmrc as an organisation can not begin to understand. If people have paid late just once in the past, its not ok to hound them with filthy messages forevermore. generally compliant people don't want to feel bullied into paying when they will anyway, its just plain rude. Clearly if after a certain point people will not or can't pay then enforcement has to be considered but the reality is self employed people are generating wealth and trying to pay their tax in most cases and need a lot more respect from hmrc.

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    2. Most people do not view tax payments as similar to mortgage or loan repayments. If you default on such loans you lose assets and lose your business - that results in Zero tax to HMRC. Those who can pay tax in full and on time absolutely should do so. But in the real world if money problems hit, tax will always be at the back of the queue and that's not likely to change.

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    3. @0813. If taxpayers have genuine cashflow problems, they should be phoning in to discuss their circumstances around the due date. The self assessment payment that was due 31 July will not have been a surprise, it will have been on records since returns were filed on 31/1/16. A Time to Pay may be agreed. Interest ( a very low rate) will be charged. Late payment penalties agreed before trigger dates are avoided as long as the payment plans are adhered to.

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    4. @08:39 My point is - why the consternation at HMRC sending letters, text messages etc to taxpayers who have not paid and not contacted HMRC? It is quite right for HMRC to do so. HMRC used to send out polite letters which a large proportion of debtors just ignored but a lot of debtors just didn't get pursued at all.

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  5. So what about those on PAYE but have no choice in paying, even though they may have "cash flow issues". It's either go without or borrow-no putting tax to the back of the queue.

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    1. The PAYE argument sounds good, and could see where you're coming from, until someone experiences for themselves what it is like to be a self-employed trader. Running a business is tough and cash flow problems are a reality. Go without what? Borrow from where? No sensible person would close an otherwise viable business by taking on costly ADDITIONAL borrowing to pay their tax if they just have a temporary cash flow problem. Its much better if Hmrc could work with the wealth creators rather than the heavy handed, inflexible and authoritarian attitude many have experienced. My advise to anyone if Hmrc turn up at your business to collect debt is do not let them in (otherwise they can take your goods), tell them to go away and that you will call them.

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  6. Some of the comments on here are so short sighted, I have worked for Hmrc for 5 years and very experienced in dealing with self assessors, on one hand I can 100% agree people have cash flow problems but thats why Hmrc have payment options and a dedicated debt management advisors. The truth is people dont count paying self assessment tax as a priorit...facty,ive heard every story under the sun and most of them are complete lies or quite frankly pathetic, if people would just submit returns on time and set up a simple monthly direct debit then things would go fine.....end of rant😁

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    1. HMRC as an organisation can be very sanctimonious, arrogant and ignorant to the needs of business. No doubt many of their debt collection staff are doing their best within the instructions given to them, but unless or until one is on the other side some might find it difficult to appreciate what an authoritarian organisation it is.

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    2. Recently I chased up a reply to my MAY 2016 letter to my tax office (which was sent recorded delivery as they have a habit of losing letters and don't like to use email). Rather than apologise for the delay, HMRC said that they had sent a reply in August. Letter was never received however. Reported this to royal mail who - surprise, surprise - could not find the letter which contained sensitive & confidential information. Hmrc arrogantly said this was my problem not theirs!!! (There's the "customer" service). If I didn't know better I would think Hmrc forget to reply to my letter, cobbled together a back dated reply when I chased them up and invented a story that they had sent it in August. But HMRC would not lie, would they???

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  7. Some of the comments on here are so short sighted, I have worked for Hmrc for 5 years and very experienced in dealing with self assessors, on one hand I can 100% agree people have cash flow problems but thats why Hmrc have payment options and a dedicated debt management advisors. The truth is people dont count paying self assessment tax as a priorit...facty,ive heard every story under the sun and most of them are complete lies or quite frankly pathetic, if people would just submit returns on time and set up a simple monthly direct debit then things would go fine.....end of rant😁

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    1. Good lad. Too many posters on here are just tightwads who won't be happy until the day they don't have to pay anything. They can smile in their coffins.

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    2. ...or maybe they just wanted don't want to be treated in such an authoritarian way by Hmrc? Most people want some fair distribution i.e. decent public services and a strong infrastructure, however government has to help wealth creators too without whom there be no money to pay for it. The private & public sectors support each other in a thriving economy & fair society (think of the great achievements of Blair & Cameron), and only people like Jeremy Corbyn and certain trade unions, who would probably like to nationalise everything as it sounds, don't seem to understand the reality.

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    3. Most are happy enough to make their contribution. Tax should be low enough to reward risk & effort and high enough to fund a compassionate society and decent public services. The majority want Hmrc to deal with the evaders and fraudsters, but would like to be treated with a little more respect in the process of paying their dues and not spoken to like they are a criminal.

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  8. Ken, please give us details of the threats in these text messages.

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    1. Any unsolicited text message from HMRC could be deemed threatening. People should not give them their phone numbers. Here is the point: yes, if taxpayers do not pay or contact Hmrc before deadlines then the public would expect them to pursue the debt relentlessly to make the system fair. We also expect them to do a better job at making the system fair for business large & small and pursuing the long term problem of benefit/tax credit fraudsters. However, what seems to be being proposed, is to send previous late payers (someone who for example had a one-off cash flow problem or illness etc) a text message telling them to pay. Hard-working, decent self-employed traders do not want to be hounded like that forevermore - its totally unnecessary when they would pay anyway. Hmrc should treat taxpayers with dignity & respect.

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    2. Anyone who receives an unwelcome SMS from HMRC should change their mobile phone number and make sure they do not give them their new number in future. Taxpayers are under no legal obligation to give them their phone numbers - there have been previous high-profile date incidents (remember they lost a disk in the post containing personal details of 25 million people) so only share the personal details the law obliges you to.

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    3. HMRC didn't lose a disc in the post. It never happened. If you believe they did - Prove it. 25 million names... None of which has been revealed.

      Scaremongering idiot.

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    4. At the time of HMRC losing 2 discs George Osborne commented that it was a "catastrophic mistake" and asked what is the point of parliament "passing laws to protect people's personal information if those laws are not even enforced at the heart of Government?" i.e. at HMRC. He demanded a "basic level of competence". 9 years later, what have the tax office done to restore trust?

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    5. If the text messages gets the taxpayers to phone in and discuss their financial position and they get a time to pay, then surely that's a good thing. And If it encourages those who are it to pay......

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    6. HMRC should leave alone the decent, hard-working wealth creators who pay the tax to fund public services. If people don't pay their tax, and don't even bother contacting the tax office, then of course it should be pursued and enforced - that's the whole point of what we pay HMRC so much to do. But on the basis of one previous late payment, it is an illiberal tactic to use forevermore and HMRC should treat people with respect.

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  9. Two discs were lost by HMRC containing the personal data of 25 million people. This was announced in Parliament by the then Chancellor Alistair Darling (though HMRC senior management were to blame), and is an objective fact (read Hansard). Emails later revealed that the NAO had requested bank details be removed, but HMRC senior management refused...the discs then went missing. Personal data is not safe with them.

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  10. TNT lost the discs.

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    1. The data should never have been placed on discs and then sent by a contractor.
      The amount of HMRC and police time incurred by their loss was incredible.
      Baaad all around methinks!

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    2. HMRC lost the discs. HMRC, as a data controller, collected the personal data and had a LEGAL obligation to ensure it was safeguarded. They failed to meet the basic level of competence and hence the public should give them only information they are legally obliged to submit and no more. Taxpayers need to think of the risks!!!

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  11. If people don't pay on time then they should be expecting to be contacted, especially if they have paid late the year before. I'm no fan of HMRC but I don't think they are doing anything wrong by using the phone numbers given to them to contact debtors.HMRC also traces numbers for taxpayers who have not given out their phone numbers.

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  12. Anyone only having worked for HMRC for 5 years is rather over egging things by stating they are "very experienced" in anything.
    Sounds more like the beggars have restarted their counter-offensive again.
    Beware of shills, wonks and fast trackers.
    5 years takes HMRCguy back to 2011, hardly long enough to understand the kitchen cleaning roster let alone the white board stats in varied colours.
    Best to stick to swallowing the Lean/Pacesetter garbage, you know it makes sense!
    Popcorn anyone?

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    1. Well put Anonymous 23 Sep 07.26.....5yo "experienced" staff member knows nothing but the whiteboard mantra....the HMRC is just one big box ticking pantomime for the YES men/women.

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    2. Spot on with this, it really is a dreadful place to work...

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  13. Such is the way HMRC works that 5 years is no time at all and doesn't really count as "very experienced". The out of control bullying culture (look at how they treated a whistle-blower who uncovered serious issues and informed our elected representatives on the PAC) shows what an authoritarian organisation it is. So long as you stay on message with the fast track careerists latest 'ideas' (which are not evidence based and change like the wind), do not raise reasonable objections when things are plain wrong and don't work too hard some may find it bearable, but its difficult to pretend there's any decency within the culture of the place.

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    1. They don't seem to like independently minded people who work hard at HMRC - it upsets them.

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    2. Now we know why it takes half an hour for them to pick the phone, staff are trying not to work too hard so as to not upset the bosses... what do they do instead? play bingo? eat cake? read the newspaper?

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  14. The SMS text messages are only the beginning. I work for the twats called HMRC in the robotics team and they are planning on robots answering the calls to replace call centre staff jobs. Its already done on self serve time to pay and installment arrangemnts, but the wider hmrc will have this roll out, oh and the fuck up that windows 10 is coming to hmrc.

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  15. HMRC don't have a good reputation with IT, me thinks windows 10 will be a wee problem for the incompetents...

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  16. As we all know, HMRC was the result of a mega-railcrash between 2 extremely diverse cultures, lets refer to them as A & B.
    A was a monolith collection of spineless lemmings whilst B was poorly led with no respect left from those who dealt with it following a succession of crash and burn court cases and a little bit of trouble handling informants or their 'handlers' correctly.
    The rest as they say is history.
    WTF happened to 2, formerly well respected Civil Service Departments appears to matter not.
    The outcome is a single entity with a poor reputation for service, credibility, truthfulness and accountability and negative value for money for taxpayers - remember them, they supply the money that this bunch of lunatics waste constantly.

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    1. Spot on with this, it is too often forgotten by HMRC and their useless senior so-called management that TAXPAYERS supply the money which they then waste. I wrote to my tax office in May sending it thru recorded delivery. In August having heard nothing I chased them up. Guess what? Yes, the useless incompetents had lost the letter!!! They don't just lose discs, they lose letters too... do not trust them with your personal data.

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