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, 20 June 2011


AccountingWeb recently summarised Louise Fernandez v HMRC (TCO1123), in which the taxpayer challenged two fines for filing her self-assessment tax returns 11 months late, on 3 December 2010.

Ms Fernandez experienced problems logging into HMRC's website to file her Self Assessment tax returns, seemingly she had been given the wrong activation codes.

Anyhoo, she then emailed HMRC (using the email address she had been given by them) to inform them of her difficulties accessing the site.

Unfortunately she didn't receive a reply.

For why?

She had emailed the VAT helpdesk, rather than the Self Assessment helpdesk.

Geraint Jones, presenting judgement, was unimpressed with HMRC's non response to Ms Fernandez's email. He noted wryly:

"It seems little point having a [Inland] Revenue helpline if it doesn't offer any help."

He accepted that Fernandez had a reasonable excuse for submitting her tax return late, but said that the second fine should stand, given that it took her another 11 months to file her return.

Tax does have to be taxing.

UK EXPATS: Reduce tax on UK Pensions
HMRC QROPS provider. Unlock your UK pension and access a 25% lump sum today.

Quote ID code "ABC" when contacting a QROPS specialist.

Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations

What is TAXWISE?

TAXWISE is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.

To find out more, please use this link Taxwise

Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.

Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies

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


  1. In fairness HMRC are a bit slow on the email side of things and I am sure a reply will arrive eventually.

  2. She e-mailed the VAT helpline to retrieve her login details.

    I'll have to try that with my bank some time, e-mailing the investment arm of my bank to retrieve my online login details for my current account, whilst I'm at it I'll ask for my card PIN as well.

    There was a whole thread on here about HMRC not having secure access and now there's a post which suggest for customer service reasons that HMRC should behave the completely opposite way.

    Perhaps the next post will be moaning about HMRC's inability to solve the Schrödinger's cat experiment.

  3. @17:55

    Maybe one day the VAT helpline people will have the brains to reply to an email and explain it has been sent to the wrong email address or even forward it on.

    I guess that help desk is manned by twats as well.

  4. What a shame, a "Customer" makes a little mistake and HMRC look stupid.

    Makes a change from HMRC making big mistakes and looking really fucking stupid.

  5. @21 June 2011 18:29

    If I a. e-mailed my bank using some webmail address and b. e-mailed a completely irrelevant department of my bank do you think I'd have a cat in hells chance of getting a reply?

    Even if I did get a reply somewhere down the line. I don't think I could rightly blame/sue/complain to them for me not being able to set up a crucial standing order/transfer.

    Face-face-face-face-face-face-face-palm-palm-palm-palm-head-bang-against-the-wall-at-some-people-HMRC-is-apparently-nanny-to-the-entire-UK-and-mother-hen-as-well etc.

  6. 21 June 2011 19:12

    Just accept that once again HMRC screwed up and got a slap on the wrist. Don't worry about the banks and how they operate as you are a lot worse.

  7. I do love the mentality of some of the HMRC 'outsiders' on this site. They seem to be made up of people who think that:

    *'bone idlers'/'jobsworths' should bear the brunt of government cuts

    *HMRC staff should be responsible and quickly repair every little tax hiccup that people make however stupid and obvious it is (e.g. not completing form P46 correctly or not realising they are paying higher rate tax or not realising that a football pitch is not a farm) and that

    *They themselves should bear no responsibility or asked to pay at least some of what they owe towards any mistakes that they themselves have made and should not be asked to make any payment because you know, 'not my fault guv, despite the fact I ticked both forms for both my jobs to say that the job I had was my only or main job, the tax office should have explained to me that I don't have two personal allowances'.

  8. @21 June 2011 19:22

    How about you e-mail some random department of your bank from your hotmail address and ask them for your internet login details or your card PIN and see how far you get.

  9. What the fuck has this thread got to do with the cuts? it is about another case of HMRC incompetence.

    As for being an outsider, I will take that as a compliment thanks.

  10. @21 June 2011 19:35

    Yes. HMRC nanny staff should have realised that the person was going to e-mail the wrong department and pre-empted this by sending a letter/guide entitled "What to do if you send an e-mail from your hotmail address to a VAT asking for your login details for self assessment".

  11. You really need to just accept that the email should have been responded to or passed on.

    The concept is quite simple and is called "customer service".

    The fact that a court has said HMRC was in the wrong and you cannot see it says more about you and HMRC than anyone else.

    And seeing as you brought up the cuts I hope that those involved in this matter are on the chop list as they are clearly a waste of space.

  12. @21 June 2011 19:54

    You're right. Even though the problem was caused by her own stupidity, HMRC should have also given her a refund of her tax as well no doubt?

  13. 21 June 2011 20:19

    I guess you are one of those Ed Ball type of characters who simply does not accept you and your organisation make mistakes.

    I will sign off now as I have wasted enough time on you and I am leaving for home now so good night and enjoy your day off on the 30th. I hope it is the first of many.

  14. @21 June 2011 20:42

    I apologise on behalf of all my colleagues who had the audacity not to respond to a message that had absolutely nothing to do with them and presented a financial security risk to said person if the message was replied to in the manner suggested here......


    Now fuck off and e-mail your bank from your hotmail/yahoo/gmail/whatever account and perhaps name 'Anonymous' of HMRCisShite as a person who can set up all your standing orders. I'm sure that'll get you really far.

  15. "I apologise on behalf of all my colleagues who had the audacity not to respond to a message that had absolutely nothing to do with them and presented a financial security risk to said person if the message was replied to in the manner suggested here......"

    Well done, you just proved the old jobs worth analogy.

    As for emailing my bank from my hotmail account and getting replies, I do on a regular basis. You see the bank actually understand about "Customer Service". As for sending out security related information I am surprised anyone in HMRC understands what that even is based on the past record of data protection.

    I hope I have helped you gain your "Jobs Worth of the Month Badge".

  16. "21 June 2011 23:17"

    No you don't. You do so through a secure process e.g. you log in to your bank with an ID/PIN and you send the e-mail via that process. That is not the same.

    No respectable bank would deal with a random hotmail customer via standard e-mail. Unless that bank was called 'eztargertrusUK plc'

  17. @21 June 2011 23:17

    Yeah 'jobsworth' that's not a hackneyed expression.

    Give me your bank details at and I'll make sure you're looked after.

    Is that the customer service you are looking for?


  18. There is no point getting in to an e-argument about it really. I know how I communicate with my bank a lot better than you do.

    And let's face it, if you work for HMRC then your IT knowledge/ability will leave a lot to be desired.

  19. @21 June 2011 23:31

    OK then publish your e-mail address here if you're that confident that doing so wouldn't render your bank account empty based on the apparent security measures you have in place with your bank.


  20. Who said anything about financial transactions? there is so much more to customer service.

    But then you would not come anywhere near understanding that that would you.

  21. @21 June 2011 23:40

    Yes there is. For example how to construct a man out of straw. Perhaps HMRC could help you get laid, but none of this has anything to do with the original post.

    Next please....

  22. It has everything to do with the original post. HMRC got slapped because they did not respond to an email. It does not matter if it was sent to the wrong address/person/department a reply should have been sent.

    To simply ignore it is rude and extremely bad customer service. The fact that posters on here do not see that shows why HMRC has the reputation it has.

    I shall now bid you goodnight and wish you well for the future.

  23. 21 June 2011 23:57

    Excellent. Next time I have a query with any given company I shall pluck an e-mail address out of thin air from one of their published e-mail addresses even if it's completely irrelevant e.g. and in my defence I'll just say "well you should have got it, why did you not deal with my query straight away, it's all your fault".

  24. People here seem to forget that HMRC staff have to deal with the private sector in their every day lives as consumers and half the time the service that is provided is absolutely abysmal compared to the service they offer.

    Private consumers of the private sector are so jaded that they aren't surprised by the behaviour of their peers but up until about 5 years ago the service provided by the public sector was second-to-none until the massive cuts were announced. (See the year of inception of HMRCisshite)

  25. 00:06 & 00:13 What's it like being fully paid up members of team Strathie? are the perks worth it?

  26. 22 June 2011 08:34

    Its the public sector. There are no perks.

  27. she then emailed HMRC (using the email address she had been given by them) to inform them of her difficulties accessing the site.

    Urm what are you all arguing about?
    The article says the e-mail address was given to her by HMRC. So she did what she was asked to do.

    HMRC had 3 possible choices:

    1) They could have passed it on to the correct department?
    2) They could have e-mailed back and explained that they do not handle requests of this nature?
    3) They could have ignored it.

    The decision attempts to makes clear what happened.

    "5. As the appellant had had difficulty using the online filing facility she sent e-mails to seeking assistance. There is no evidence that she ever received a reply. In HMRC’s Case Statement it is asserted that the appellant sent her e-mails of the 13 and 15 January 2010 to the VAT Online Services Helpdesk "in error". Quite why there was any error in using the e-mail address to which I have referred, I do not understand. HMRC is one organisation and unless it adequately made it clear that the address used by the appellant would not elicit a response to her request for assistance, I find the comment in the Case Statement wholly unconvincing and misconceived."

    The judge(Geraint JONES QC) later says:
    I am wholly unimpressed by the argument that there was no obligation on HMRC to reply to the appellant's e-mails to its helpdesk; there is little point in there being a helpdesk if, in fact, it does not provide help.

  28. "1) They could have passed it on to the correct department?
    2) They could have e-mailed back and explained that they do not handle requests of this nature?
    3) They could have ignored it."

    Option 3 was the easiest to understand so they went with it.

  29. I don't care what I said previously I am beginning to be a fan of What? Tyler.

  30. How the hell did this go all the way to a court case!!?

    For two £100 penalties!!


  31. @17:51 The Customer took it to court.

  32. Quite right, these idiots at HMRC should be on the receiving end more often!

  33. @22 June 2011 17:51

    It's not really a court case. It's a tribunal service that determines whether the outcome of an appeal handled by HMRC was fair. Only occasionally does it make a decision in favour of the person making the appeal as the judge looks at it from a purely legal standpoint.

    The outcome of this judgement may necessarily affect the decisions of future appeals made to HMRC staff against penalties and surcharges etc. as the judge disagrees with HMRC's definition of reasonable excuse which is something that the department would rely upon when making the initial decision.

  34. Can't believe this went all the way to a tribunal!

    Surely the "Customer" had reasonable grounds to appeal the first penalty, i.e trouble filing online?

    & quite rightly the QC upheld that the 2nd penalty should stand taking 11 months to file

  35. @19:22 Agreed, shame some of the previous posters are too blinkered to see it the same way.

  36. @21 June 2011 19:54

    The court did not state HMRC were in the wrong, only that a penalty should not have been applied.

    Learn to tell the difference between legal arguments and idealistic arguments.

  37. My husband and I bought a house which we rent out because he is in the army and we are posted in Germany. We received letters sent to our British Forces Post Office (BFPO) address stating we need to submit self assesments. All the letters stated the preferred method would be online. So applied for my gateway account, again sent to my BFPO address, then activated my account, no problems!
    Well went and opened up my self assesment yesterday only for it reject my address and tell me that I could not process my assesment online, GRRRRR!
    Phoned the help line to be told again that this was the case, although at no point previous to this was I informed of this.
    Have spent the past day doing it manually and have sent it off, with the possibility of a £700 fine (me and Hubbie).
    You can imagine my frustration when a collegue told me today that he submits his online and uses his BFPO address!
    Bloody raging!!!