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.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

HMRC and Mental Illness


My thanks to a loyal reader who asked me to publish this, to show the effects that HMRC's actions have on people on the receiving end.

This was my response a recently published newspaper article “HMRC’s harassment worsened our mental illness”.

Hi, I’ve recently read your article “HMRC’s harassment worsened our mental illness”.

It was one of the saddest things I’ve read in ages. Unfortunately, it’s a much more common story than one might think. My three business partners and I have been fighting HMRC and their harassment for many years now.

In light of your article I thought perhaps you might be interested in our ongoing battle, and the toll its taken/taking.

As I’m writing this, the latest threatening letter has just arrived, it’s the 14th December 2018 and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this letter has been sent just in time to ruin Christmas. Apparently, this is something they do just to add extra stress and pressure.

Could you please keep my details private, as I’m concerned about repercussions from HMRC and other Government Agencies? Something we have been victims of in the past for whistle blowing on in-house corruption.

My partners and I have built our businesses from the ground up over the last 20 plus years. We all started with nothing and through hard work, great employees and customers, created wonderful businesses.

At its peak, our companies turned over in excess of £35 million pounds employing over 250 people.

We employed many apprentices in varying disciplines, something we are very proud of.



So here we go....

Many years ago it was suggested to us by our accountants that there was a scheme in place called an EBT (Employee Benefit Trust). Going forward the same or similar scheme has changed name to an Efirb.

This scheme allowed nominated employees to take out loans from the company so long as the company could demonstrate to the tax authorities that the loans could be facilitated from that year’s annual profit.

The loans would be set up via a trust and interest charged on the loans. Having these loans provided funds for investment in other ventures and many other things one buys with a loan.

After talking to the Inland Revenue regarding the legality of the EBT’s, we were satisfied they were legal and issued numerous loans over a 3-4 year period.

These were only ever loans, not wages or anything else. The plan was to repay the tax on the loans from future dividends and profits, especially as the company was doing so well.

Unfortunately changes in government procurement requirements prevented us from re-tendering for some of our major government contracts, some of which we had retained for over 15 years. That and other lost private sector contracts left our company in a precarious position. We put money back into our companies to restructure, which saved the companies, but reduced our work force by half. But we still had our companies and were moving forward again.

At the same time HMRC retrospectively changed their legislation providing them with the power to demand accelerated payment notices (APN’s) for the tax element of the EBT’s.

This we were told was down to the abuse of the scheme. Apparently, companies had been paying salaries using the scheme, something we had never done. Rangers Football Club were the main subjects of a court case, which as I understand became a test case that after several appeals, eventually went in favour of HMRC. This ruling was used retrospectively hence the APN’s.

As shareholders we had already paid monies back into the company to save it from bankruptcy, so disposable funds were scarce. HMRC had sent us APN demands for the first EBT’s. Consequently, we met with them agreeing payment terms, paying the maximum the restructured companies could afford. They threatened to start repossessing company assets unless we did this, why I’m not sure, how can we make payments without a company to earn income.

We were now subject to the perfect financial storm. A decline in business revenue and APN’s being issued by HMRC.

To facilitate the payments to HMRC, we made as many cut backs as we possible, the board of directors gave up having a salary for as long as we could. We were doing our best to meet the APN demands. You might ask where the loans had gone. Well that’s exactly what they were loans. Not monies squirrelled away, hidden under the mattress. The majority of the money had been spent, a lot paid back to the company and invested in other things. Why would we not spend it? It was a company loan, not stolen money, not money sent to a tax haven or offshore account, nor to buy a forest in wonderland. Why would we keep it sitting in an account? Just in case we had to pay it back in full, which was the last thing on our minds?

It was quite obvious that when the next round of APN demands came in we could not meet them and because HMRC had already threatened to start repossessing company assets, it was suggested by our accountants that the only way to save our companies and the jobs of our remaining employees, was to start up another company and transfer the business over to the new company. They made it quite clear that if we did not do this, the HMRC demands would make solvency untenable. This was devastating news, over 20 years of hard graft just thrown away because of retrospective changes in legislation by HMRC.

Over the last six months/year we have done this and secured the jobs of our remaining employees.

During this period we, being the four shareholder Directors have lost our companies, our dignity our health and many good customers. It’s important to point out that not one of our suppliers or sub-contractors went un-paid during this transition. It would seem that we are now branded tax-dodging criminals, pariahs in the eyes of the HMRC and some of the public. One of us is battling cancer and another fighting severe depression. More recently another of us has suffered a third bout of pneumonia and was recently diagnosed with TB.

Are these ailments related to the stress, anxiety and harassment, according to health experts they might very well be and the HMRC situation certainly doesn’t help.

One of us has said ending their life seems to be the only release from relentless threats and intimidation from the HMRC. This from a broken man, who has worked his whole life creating jobs and paying taxes. He is a very strong character, a leader, but HMRC have systematically, through continued intimidation and harassment created a human being who can no longer function in his day-to-day life.

HMRC have now threatened doubling the debt and adding astronomical penalties if we don’t pay everything back in full now, even though the companies are no longer trading.

The future now looks even bleaker for all of us, as HMRC are yet again changing the legislation so that they can pursue individuals for their APN tax, even though the debt lies with the insolvent companies. Astonishingly the Limited company veil of protection seems to have been lifted by HMRC.

We are not tax dodgers; we have not, and never have partaken in tax evasion or avoidance schemes. Between us we have paid more tax than most and created thousands of tax paying jobs. We just took out legal loans, nothing hidden. In fact, the loans formed part of our annual tax return, and couldn’t be taken without the consent of HMRC; they had to agree that annual profits were earned to facilitate the loans.

At the time we took these loans these schemes were recognised as legal by HMRC. We were not fools; under no circumstances would we have taken part in these schemes without first checking with our accountants and HMRC that they were legal, which they were.

If HMRC doubted the legality of these schemes why didn’t they stop them? Surly they have a responsibility to ensure such schemes are either legal or not at the time they were used, not retrospectively just because they messed up.

Our advisors have told us, that the tax authorities need revenue. They have gained the support from the public through their recent name and shame campaigns.

The irony of all of this is, that I’m pretty certain that these schemes still exist, albeit with updated rules.

This is an extract from one of our recent email exchanges.

—————————————————————- Hi ——

How’s thing your end? How’s the new grand-baby, the photos look lovely. How long will------be in hospital?

Is --------any better?

I’m sorry to say things here are not good. ______ not getting any better, here’s hoping the next set of test results are more positive.

It just seems so unfair that we find ourselves in this position.

Everything we did was aboveboard and legal. We even had to inform the bloody Inland Revenue of our intention to take EBT loans. They never at any time objected, or said what we were doing was wrong, why is that, I just don’t understand?

I know I’m ranting on again, but I just can’t make any sense out of it.

The last 4 years have been a living hell for all of us, especially you, with the issues you’ve had to deal with.

As hard as I try to rationalise the situation, I still find myself in some very dark places. More so at night when your mind plays havoc with perspective and reality. Thank god I’ve got a good support system around me, ------ and the kids are brilliant.

Depression, anxiety, fear and stress are a daily part of my life these days.

I’m not sure about you, but I just can’t focus on anything, works just a no-no.

There’s only so much antidepressant drugs can do. I can’t spend the rest of my life walking around like a bloody zombie. But it’s the only way I can deal with this at the moment, HMRC thrive on miss information and shadowy threats. They revel in intimidation trying to force people into breaking down.

Unfortunately, it will take some poor sods suicide before they realise exactly what they are doing, with a bit of luck I won’t be that poor sod, but I’m just not sure how much more I can take. For the first-time last week, I had a full-blown panic attack. It was like an out of this world experience, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest and the sweating and shaking was something to be seen, it didn’t last long but was terrifying, I don’t want to go there again.

Medication seems to be the only way forward, because I just can cope. A full night’s sleep is a thing of the past.

I’m not even able to open my emails on my own anymore for fear of what they might contain. The letterbox is a big problem as well; I just can’t cope with any official looking letter.

Sometimes I think it would be so nice just not to wake up (if I could sleep).

Sorry to blurt out all my woes, just sounding off.

Talk soon. x ...

28 comments:

  1. Heartbreaking and dehumanising.

    I would love to say that this was an isolated case, everyone knows that it isn't. There is no access for the general public anymore to the Ivory Tower filth with their endless initiatives. Just letters, phone calls and fob offs.

    You could just show up in your local town and someone there would help you. Not anymore. As long as everything looks rosy on paper, that's all they care about. Do what you want, as long as the shit doesn't come back to their desk. Figures, Stats, Targets, Flipcharts and arse covering. That's it.

    The whole place makes me want to puke. Puke.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wanted;

    A small, dedicated and unbiased team consisting of some or more of the following;
    1. Good, independant investigative reporter;
    2. Experienced, opem-minded, self guided analyst;
    3. Top quality, respected Q.C. willing and able to support a Pro Bono Class Action against the alleged perpetrators;
    4. M.P. or M.P.'s prepared to 'sponsor' and support same;
    5. Advertising to promulgate the issues widely both within general media and also within professional organisations;
    6. Any other useful participents.

    The time for moaning and groaning is long since gone, it is apparent that HMRC disregard for civil and criminal law, moral ethics and basic humanity is so widespread as to be almost like a black cloak laid across society in general.
    This must stop, I believe some will already have committed suicide that has not been attributed to the actions and or inactions of this organisation.
    I am sure I am not alone as a previous employee badly affected by this lot, who is prepared to support this through.
    Would also suggest that the Q.C. required will need to be of the calibre of Michael Mansfield or similar with an ability to tenaciously gnaw away at the establishment.
    FOI and also a thorough investigation across all areas is required, the evidence is there, go find it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should have added that digital/social media may be a key component here!

      Delete
  3. The tale of woe something that should be submitted as evidence to join the growing mountain now in the hands of the Teasury sub committee. .

    https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/treasury-committee/treasury-sub-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/conduct-tax-enquiries-resolution-tax-disputes-17-19/

    The written evidence from leading law and accountancy firms clearly sets out the scale of the problem, which rests entirely in the self serving and cynical hands of HMRC senior management, whose constant tide of misinformation coupled with non deliverable promises to ministers has created a toxic environment for taxpayers, HMRC staff and not produced any of thw claimed benefits

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am an ex-HMRC officer left suicidal by violent HMRC bullying including attempts by management to pervert the course of justice by undermining due legal process with a cacophony of lies and abuse aimed at getting themselves off the hook.

    This is the harsh reality of how HMRC operate.

    My heart goes out to the taxpayer suffering at the hands of HMRC. As others have said, the time for talking is over. Quite simply we need a thorough investigation into the criminal and civil law breaking which is shaming the civil service by this rogue department.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should add as an ex-HMRC officer that I agree with the following:
      "As I’m writing this, the latest threatening letter has just arrived, it’s the 14th December 2018 and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this letter has been sent just in time to ruin Christmas. Apparently, this is something they do just to add extra stress and pressure."

      For years in succession, while I was going through pre & actual legal process in relation to their unlawful behaviour, I received correspondence/communication on Christmas Eve!!!

      You could not make it up. I was left with PTSD, severe depression & anxiety and am undergoing mental health support at this moment in time. Stay strong against the HMRC bullies!!

      Delete
  5. Somewhat ironic that a backbench debate on Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace is tabled for today in the House of Commons.
    Do you suppose, albeit cynically, that maybe the sheer financial costs associated with sing what motivates eh?
    On a positive note, it is comforting to see the amount of awareness now being exhibited, and the media coverage today and recently has been excellent.
    Perhaps the corner has at last been turned, if not negotiated...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oops, typo, line 4; delete 'sing' insert '..associated issues is...'
    ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Where else can this article be published? This needs to be seen by the wider public.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Guardian, The Times and Daily Mail have been more open than most media organisations in exposing uncomfortable truths about the powerful - perhaps someone could contact them?

      Delete
  8. HMRC senior management are empowered in their abuse by legions of lickspittle middle management who place targets over welfare and are firmly embedded because in many cases otherwise unemployable. Many really are on the spectrum themselves.

    Came across this first hand a while back and left HMRC as a result of what I can only describe as a reign of terror and intimidation.

    With some trepidation left for the dreaded private sector and....more work,longer hours yet treated like an adult and allowed to breath without having to account for my actions.

    Looking back and still dealing with HMRC staff, I see nothing but miserable demotivated people locked into a cycle of oppression which is then translated into their direct dealings with taxpayers, which is tending to the dull and abusive style of uncaring bureacrats in all failed states

    ReplyDelete
  9. HMRC bullying is not news. It's widely known about notwithstanding devious & ultimately unsuccessful attempts by HMRC to suppress the truth. The wider public would be shocked at the total lack of integrity, and a borderline totalitarian organisation, were they to know how HMRC operate in opposition even to many of their own staff. I sense the tide is turning, people are becoming better informed and the day will come when HMRC management, past & present, have to account for how they allowed the organisation to cause so much misery & harm.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well hopefully todays backbench debate will ring a bell with some M.P.'s, the problem is severe in HMRC, and exists across the civil service to one extent or another.
    Private sector seems to be more aware of Vicarious Liabilty than public sector?
    If the dots are joined then it will be apparent how widespread the issues and effects are.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Interesting debate about a crucial segment of the overall problem, Minister obviously on top of that part of her portfolio and the bigger picture, acknowledging that subject was a small part of the mental health at work issues. Good support from back benchers.

    Trouble was I heard the words hoistic, toolkit and similar used which tends to associate with a a snowflake approach to a very serious malaise.

    Overall, good, but only a slice across the whole problem. Attached to recognition of causes and prevention, would be positive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of the statistics quoted were titanic in terms of days lost, fiscal cost, people affected.

      Well researched, a pity so few M.P.'s saw fit to sit for this reading compared to the recent letter box bill.

      Delete
  12. ....Arise Sir Jonathan Thompson....CEO of the worst Government department in Whitehall.
    We are all pissing in the wind.

    ReplyDelete
  13. HMRC tried to push me to suicide having already bullied me as a staff member, after being hounded by a law-breaking manager which caused a breakdown they sent emails late at night well after deadlines, delayed responses over Christmas period but nevertheless sent insignificant communication on Christmas Eve 2 years in a row just to cause me harassment, alarm and distress (to use the legal term). Their reign of terror against me was designed at trying to make my actions in regard to their law-breaking go away - FAIL. Those thugs are deranged psychopaths and its a disgrace that they are let loose on the unsuspecting taxpaying public. Could these people be the same ones behind the total lack of empathy shown to taxpayers in distressing situations? Time for Government and Parliamentarians to get tough on the HMRC rogues and take the knighthood off Mr Jon Thompson (who I can personally confirm is not an honest man and deserves no respect due to how he behaves).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Boring, same old, as usual. Grow a pair and belt up.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous18 January 2019 at 14:44
      Obessional,compulsive, delusional and clearly quite ill and not fit to be a public servant.

      Delete
    3. @19:12 & @19:42.....this poster might be labouring the point....but you are dismissing them like the HMRC has....there is no need for your insults.
      If you don't like them...just ignore them.
      You wouldn't be throwing your "grow a pair" comments if you suffered from mental illness...shame on you.

      Delete
  14. Agree with @11.42
    I could imagine that you are both managers who could not give a shit about your staff, but toady to your superiors who you one day want to be. Your are not fit to be public servants-that's if you are.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Been posting on here for years, it is fairly easy to spot the odd 'fastracker', 'comms' shill or troll on here. Some of the more devious are harder to detect, but the asute observers on this site will spot the odd quirk which activates the spidey senses and causes one to be aware.

    The unfortunate poster @ 18th 14:44, whilst being repetitive is simply airing their experiences of the shite that inhabits the management failures within HMRC. Study the language and empathise a little, you may begin to see the light.

    A plea to this individual however, been there, seen it, got the book, DVD, t-shirt and long service award. I am however, despite having been out of the horrible place for some years, still affected, taking tablets and being reviewed regularly. The tablets are likely to be taken for the rest of my natural. You are not alone, but if you are not already getting it, seek some help and kep expressing yourself.

    To your critics...grow a pair, those that should be criticised inhabit the other side of the fence.

    BTW, my psychiatrist was seeing another 5 HMRC staff around the time that I was originally referred and was of the opinion that ...'the bastards should be prosecuted...' strong words from a professional, but absolutely true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's that latest way to overcome mental illness in the HMRC....this is currently being shove down our throats...truly infantile !!
      https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2019/01/10/six-ways-to-improve-your-wellbeing/#comments

      Delete
    2. Madness, WTF is going on, yes, go ahead, make yourself better in your own time, not at work, because you have to account for that time productively.

      'We are at our most productive and fully engaged at work
      when we are healthy, happy and feel able to be ourselves.'

      FFS! There are people on here talking about suicidal tendancies, law breaking etc. and this lot are quoting
      'Appreciation Tree/Wall for your office where staff members can thank colleagues for work they have done.'
      'create your own achievement jar or box, where you can write down all of the things you feel you have done well in that week or month, and reflect on them at a later time to appreciate how far you have come.'
      'Prioritise using ‘power hours’. For one hour (preferably in the morning) focus on a particular task. The theory is that you start with the most important task first, so that you do not have to worry about it throughout the day. Having a dedicated hour often helps you focus and avoid distractions.'
      'benefits people of all ages through increasing feelings of self-esteem, respect, motivation and wellbeing.' (don't work for HMRC then!)

      What planet do these people come from, have any of them not seen how time is accounted for in HMRC, focus on a task for an hour LMAO!, you would be requiring more than improvement or time to take a crap comfortably and without stress whilst retaining the last vestiges of self respect and wellbeing, and as for motivation, fear tends to make people want to...
      If it were not so insulting to all those affected, this would be laughable, as it is, it represents the 'edna sand' mentality of the management.
      Mad or what?!

      Delete
  16. I wonder if HMRC have read this blog...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unlikely HMRC would admit reading this blog. Too many uncomfortable truths. Be sure though that some senior management & fast trackers unofficially read, and, moreover, troll the comments of truth tellers.

      A steaming pile of horseshite of an organisation, injurious to staff & taxpayers alike, corrupt to the core...now, wait for the troll to turn up again, w*nkers.

      Delete
  17. HMRC wrecks lives - whether that's taxpayers or their own workforce.

    They don't care and they're unaccountable to anyone. Their own policies show how committed they are to mental health - not very, if at all.
    They pay lip service to mental health, while kicking staff in the teeth at every opportunity. Their own absence policies show how they treat mental health.

    A disgusting employer, whose actions are defended only by those in EXCOM or fast trackers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spot on. Completely agree that HMRC wrecks lives. Disappointing that an HMRC insider and/or apologist (most likely EXCOM or fast-tracker) has dismissed the anguish of those persons suffering suicidal ideation and serious mental health due to HMRC's misconduct. This, sadly, is so typical have how low this once great department (IR/HMCE) has sunk
      I am of the opinion that there are HMRC employees current and former who should be criminally prosecution for their actions and inaction in relation to the harm they have caused. Despicable pond life unfit to be collecting the taxpayers shilling.
      This blog and social media is shining a light on the reality of HMRC misconduct. Hopefully the powers that be will listen!

      Delete