Friday 27 February 2009

HMRC Bans Sellotape

SellotapeYou couldn't make this up!

Source Citywire:

"I nearly fell of my chair with laughter last week when I was asked by Alliance Trust to have some forms CA1550 and CA 1544 re-signed because they were not double sided and they were saying HMRC would not accept them on single sheets!

Checking the date and realising it was not All Fools Day I rang the Revenue thinking that Alliance Trust had got something wrong, only to be told: 'the machines we have cannot recognise a single sheet and, yes, we prefer these forms to be double sided, and the way to overcome this is not to use Sellotape or staples but to go and buy some Scotch Magic tape and stick the two sheets together and then that will be fine'!

'Oh by the way if you were to use Sellotape it will melt from the heat of the scanner and could jam the machine!'

Whilst I want to be as green as I can and use less paper if at all possible at this moment the laser printer we have is fairly new and does not do duplex printing. Yes, I could spend several minutes faffing around and printing one page at a time but do not have the time to do this as it is not cost effective.

I wonder how many thousands of pounds HMRC spent on the state-of-the-art scanner that cannot recognise a single sided document!

I have studied both forms and cannot see anywhere in the instructions that these forms must be double sided. I wonder which page of the pension legislation does it say it has to be! Needless to say I have asked for the forms to be returned and I will get a roll of Scotch Magic Tape to make them double sided.

I hope you find this as amusing as I did, though at first I was not amused as you might expect!

If you want to check it out speak with the Revenue help line on 0845 9150150

I wonder if any other advisers have encountered this problem - or any other examples of ridiculous bureaucratic requirements from government departments or providers?

Andrew Warwick is partner at Absolute Financial Services LLP in Solihull

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Thursday 26 February 2009

Security Matters? - II

Security Matters? - IIStephen Timms, the financial secretary to the Treasury, has told the Commons that there have been 11,266 security breaches at HMRC since it was formed in 2005.

The breaches, according to Timms, cover "a wide range" including; unlocked cupboards, losses, theft, suspicious behaviour and vandalism.

I guess this one was on the list as well?

"Did you hear the one about the lady who attended a Data Security Workshop held at an HMRC building?

Apparently sitting through both the morning afternoon sessions, and enjoying the departmental coffee and sandwiches, she obviously found it all to be a worthwhile exercise.

The fact that she was actually a member of the public, who had mistakenly wandered in to the building, only came to light when the facilitator asked everyone present to hold up their Data Security booklet, and of course the lady had to admit that she hadn't actually been given one.

You couldn't make it up

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Wednesday 25 February 2009

On Target

On TargetA tax professional rang HMRC the other day, on behalf of a client whose PAYE tax code has been wrong for a number of years.

The Service Team advised her that she "has a long wait" ahead of her to get the situation corrected.

How long?

Unclear, as this particular HMRC office are currently dealing with post from August 23rd 2008.

Seemingly, according to the Service Team, this is "on target".

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Monday 23 February 2009

Tax Avoidance

I am not alone in stating that using ISAS and personal allowances etc constitutes tax avoidance. state the very same thing, as per their article "Savings and Investments How to Avoid Tax".

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Friday 20 February 2009

Debt Collection II

Debt Collection IIHMRC, in the face of mounting opposition from the unions, business and finance professionals to their plans to outsource debt collection have told Accountancy Age:

"We will only proceed with a pilot once we are satisfied that the benefits outweigh the risks."

Two points that people need to bear in mind:

1 Benefits to whom? HMRC or the taxpayers?

2 The risks include the loss of taxpayers' personal data handed over to private firms.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Tuesday 17 February 2009

A Question To HMRC

A Question
In HMRC's draft charter, the following phrase is used:

"Pursue relentlessly those that break or bend the rules".

What precisely constitutes, in HMRC's eyes, "bending the rules"?

"Bending" could easily be interpreted as "tax planning".

Does this mean that tax avoidance, which is perfectly legal, is now being made illegal via the backdoor (the charter will have the force of law behind it)?

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Monday 16 February 2009


I received this the other day from a correspondent:

"Hi Ken,

I'm writing to you purely out of frustration and the lack of anyone to answer my questions regarding our child benefit claim. In brief the story goes as follows:

My family and myself moved to the UK on the 04 Sep 08 to take up a position with a firm based in Buckinghamshire. I filled out all the required forms to get things like my NI number and NHS stuff. My wife was told that we were entitled to claim child benefit and the forms were sent to her. She was also told that due to the fact that she had no NI number, after she lodged her claim form, the child benefit dept would start the ball rolling on getting her an NI number and this would happen automatically. She filled out the forms and sent them, with our childrens' birth certs., on the 15 Oct 08.

After hearing nothing, we contacted them to check the progress and were told that nothing was happening and they were waiting for us to supply her NI number. We organised this ourselves and provided them with the info, and started the waiting game again.

On the 12 Feb 08 we received a letter from them telling us that due to a high work load they couldn't find our paperwork and could we pls fill out the forms again.

I rang to speak to someone about this and was told that we would have to apply again, it could take up to another 16 weeks to process, no answer to the whereabouts of the copies of our childrens certs., 'no, there is no-one you can talk to about this' and our payments will only be backdated in relation to the new application.

Whilst the payment thing is a bit of a pain, I'm more concerned about the location of the copies of the certs and the original application with all the personal details (including banking details).

I can't understand why these people are protected in their crystal palaces and are not required to answer for the mistakes they make. I know if I stuff up at work, I'm brought to task and made to account for my actions.

I apologise if this doesn't quite cover the intention of your site, I just had to vent my frustration somewhere

Has anyone else had problems wrt HMRC losing important documents?

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Friday 13 February 2009

Time To Pay

Time To Pay
Stephen Timms, financial secretary to the Treasury, has said that over 60,000 businesses have agreed time to pay tax arrangements with HMRC totalling more than £1BN.

Firms must pay interest on the outstanding amount. However, they can avoid extra penalty charges. Late payments for income tax, national insurance contributions and capital gains tax are charged at 3.5%, corporation tax is charged at at 2.5%.

The average deferral time is between three to six months.

These arrangements are of some benefit to small firms in particular, who are experiencing difficulties obtaining credit during the current recession/depression.

Let us trust that as and when HMRC outsource its debt collection activities and sell on its outstanding debt to private debt collection agencies, these private agencies are equally forgiving of the delays in settling the debts.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Thursday 12 February 2009

Debt Collection

Debt Collection
HMRC's proposals to outsource some of its debt collection activities to the private sector has caused some controversy. The outstanding tax debt for 2007/08 is estimated to be around £17BN.

HMRC intend to run a number of pilot schemes, eg outsourcing debt collection to low-value debt specialists and selling debt that is deemed to be irrecoverable.

HMRC won't say how much the schemes will cost, or which suppliers they will use.

This is a risky tactic, at least as far as the reputation of HMRC and livelihoods of the people that they collect from are concerned.

There are a number of debt collection companies that employ aggressive and "semi illegal" tactics to recover debt; such as ringing people at work/home at any hour of the day or night, sending people to the debtors' work/home and generally being intimidating (they threaten bankruptcy and repossession of homes within 21 days).

These companies are used by "respected" banks and credit card companies (to wash their hands of the issue and to avoid damage to their reputations), it is therefore highly likely that HMRC will be using the very same organisations.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Monday 9 February 2009

Draft Charter

HMRC have produced a draft charter, and are holding a consultation process open until 21 May 2009.

The aim to make "the tax and benefits system feel simple to use" is most laudable, and one that everyone (Gordon Brown and the Treasury excluded) would all agree with. However, the fact remains that the tax and benefits system is not at all simple.

I cannot see HMRC being able to make much of an impact wrt simplification, until their political masters "buy into" the concept of simplicity.

"HM Revenue & Customs makes sure that money is available to fund the UK's public services. We also help families and individuals with targeted financial support. We aim to make the tax and benefits system feel simple to use.

You can expect HMRC to:

Treat you as honest, believing you are willing to pay what you owe, claiming only what you are entitled to, unless we have good reason to doubt you.

Respect you, listening to your needs and taking into account your circumstances.

Provide you with accurate information, making it easy for those who try to get things right.

Recognise your right to be represented by someone else.

Pursue relentlessly those that break or bend the rules.

Protect the information that we hold about you.

HMRC expects you to:

Work with us to ensure your payments or claims are accurate and made at the right time.

Respect our staff, treating them in the same way as you want them to treat you.

Contact us when you need help, advice or support, letting us know if you have particular needs.

Tell us about changes in your circumstances so that we can get things right as early as possible.

Accessing information about HMRC:

Service standards, such as our times for responding when you contact us.

Data protection policy and keeping your information safe and secure.

Complaints process

Send in your comments :

-by e-mail to:

-by post to: HMRC Charter Team, Room 3E/02, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ

-by fax to: 020 7147 0391.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Friday 6 February 2009

Data Protection

Data ProtectionTax Credit Casualties has been approached by a journalist who is researching breaches of the Data Protection Act by HMRC.

If you have experienced any of the following please do let them know:

  • HMRC has sent you information about other people's tax credit claims.
  • HMRC has sent information about you to the wrong address.

  • You have requested information from them under the Data Protection Act and you did not receive all the information, or didn't receive it within the 40 day time limit, or the recordings of the phone calls necessary to prove your case where missing or unavailable.

  • You have received your Data Protection information but the packaging has been so poor that the information has been clearly visible, or the packet has even been taped together by the post office.

  • There have been problems with previous joint claims, you're now separated, and HMRC are saying that due to Data Protection laws they can't give you information supplied by your ex-partner even though the overpayment relates to the time when you were still a couple and claiming jointly.

  • HMRC's debt recovery department has discussed your personal details with neighbours, or has made enquiries to your neighbours about your family circumstances without your knowledge.

  • Any other horror stories regarding information going astray, going missing, being shared with other people, etc.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Thursday 5 February 2009

Security Matters?

Security Matters?HMRC has been taken to task by Richard Clayton, a security expert at Cambridge University and adviser to the House of Lords committee on personal internet security, over the security of its online filing system.

It seems that people filling in the online tax forms could be at risk of allowing others to access their personal details, because the username field has an auto-complete function.

Computing quote Geoff Westcott:

"Click on a link to open the 'about you' page, for example, and there is my password clearly displayed in the browser address bar for all to see. Print off any page and the password is printed as part of the URL.

Bearing in mind that the username on the log-in page is an auto-completed field in many browsers, a phisher now has all the information they need to log in and access any and all of my personal information

Richard Clayton said that such a fault was "foolish" and "not regular practice". He noted that being able to see someone's tax exposed the taxpayer to possible id theft.

Westcott claims to have reported the fault to HMRC twice, but has yet to receive a response.

HMRC contest the claim and note that that the URL shows a unique taxpayer record (UTR) number, not the password.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Wednesday 4 February 2009

IT Issues II

It would appear that I and the Treasury Select Committee were in error, when I noted recently on this site that HMRC had 16.2 million tax cases open.

According to this comment, there are in fact 20 million cases open:

"I am sorry to correct your piece but according to Bernadette Kenny a member of the executive committee of HMRC, we actually have TWENTY million open cases awaiting review!!!!!!

All because we don't have the staff to review them and its more that our life is worth to actually do them in our day to day work.

Its not LEAN you know

Mea culpa!

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Tuesday 3 February 2009


AmnestyNow here is a piece of news that may be of interest to a few of you, "Stop Hitting Me Officer" especially who recently commented:

"Filing online?

I just put mine in a buff-coloured envelope earlier today and filed it at the Postal Orifice with a letter explaining "1 month + 8 emails + 12 telephone calls = quite enough effort trying to be allowed to register to file online so herewith paper..."

When the "penalty" arrives in the post I'll load the Purdey with buckshot and invite them to come and collect in person

Anyhoo, it transpires that more than a handful of people are a tad "miffed" that HMRC had not adequately publicised the fact that there was a 21 January deadline for registering for pin codes, in order to be able to file on line. Moira Stewart's nice little adverts reminding people about the 31 January online filing deadline failed to mention that rather important point.

Would this not be a cause for complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority?

Notwithstanding any official complaint to ASA, HMRC has been forced to issue an amnesty to those who missed the cut off because they registered for a pin after 21 January.

In true HMRC style, the tardy taxpayers will still receive the £100 penalty notice. However, HMRC will not enforce the fine if an appeal is lodged on the basis that a pin was not received in time.

This probably should help "Stop Hitting Me Officer". However, as those of you who are regulars will know (and have read his numerous comments on this site), he registered for a pin code well before 21 January and, despite repeated attempts (phone, email, letter etc), never received one.

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"

Monday 2 February 2009

System Works - No Crash

CheersHMRC's online filing system seems to have worked well this year, ie it didn't crash. Accounting Web report that:

"HMRC benefited from the tendency of taxpayers to leave their tax returns until the last minute this year, as returns had to be made online to avoid a penalty for all but a handful of taxpayers. The number of taxpayers filing their returns online by 31 January this year jumped to 5.75 million – a 50 per cent increase on last year's figure, with 67% of all self assessment returns filed online by 31 January.

The peak filing day this year was Friday 30 January, with 390,000 returns filed in one day – up from the peak day last year of 185,000. If returns were filed round the clock on 30th this means HMRC were receiving 16,250 per hour; more likely, however, that the filing period ran for around 18 hours meaning that they coped with almost 22,000 returns an hour, or 361 per minute – that’s 6 every second

However, one correspondent has advised me that his experience was not so good; as the server wouldn't respond to his activation request, consequently preventing him from filing online by the deadline.

Has anyone else had any problems?

Tax does have to be taxing.

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"