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happy_renting

Effing Hmrc

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I've just spent all afternoon on the phone to HMRC, trying to complete an online P45.

P45s can only be completed online now. When I entered 'taxable pay', a comma kept being inserted and then the form rejected with the message 'The amount you have entered is in the wrong format. Please amend your entry'. No advice on what the correct format is. No hint. No example. No detail on what the problem is. No advice on why it might be happening. Computer says No.

So , trawling through the website, I look for telephone numbers.

HMRC have 2 telephone helplines - each as badly designed as the other. Each time I ring I spend ages listening to recorded waffle telling me to use the website - that is, if the Interactive Voice Response system itself isn't 'busy'. And these calls aren't free. But my time is, apparently, to them.

Wading through the various options on both numbers gets to the message 'If you don't have an online problem but you'd like help completing any forms such as the P45 or P46 online, press 1'.

But I do have an online problem. I can't complete the ****ing form online. That's an online problem.

The HMRC Employer's Helpline says "If you're an employer and have an online problem about PAYE including the Basic PAYE Tools our advisors won't be able to help you on this line, you'll need to ring the Online Services Helpdesk"

The Online Services Helpdesk has the message 'If you need help completing your employer forms... you'll need to ring the Employer's Helpline'. Yep, they've even automated passing the buck. Auto-Jobsworth-O-Tronic.TM

After being ping-ponged many times, trying to navigate their badly-worded maze, I get through to a human who needs my name, company nuame, and employer's reference, Just to tell me how to get rid of a ****ing comma. And he still doesn't know the answer.

Employer's reference? Yes, thats the number simply given as 'Reference' on the web page. AKA Tax Reference. AKA PAYE reference, depending on which letter you read from them and what mood they are in. We, of course, have time to guess what the eff they are talking about, we must learn all the variations of their jargon, we have nothing better to do with our time, such as earn a living.

Can he take my details? The company address he has on file is out of date - but he won't tell me what's wrong with it. Even though the correct company registered office is online at companies House by law. Even though they have written to me recently at the correct address. No, it's a secret, security, you see. So he can't use my details and sort out the problem by other means.

Can I change it so it is correct? Yes, I have to give him my tax office reference. For 'security'. Which they haven't given me. Can he give it to me? No, I have to ring the helpline. Again. FFS.

So I give the helpline my details. Can they give me my tax office code ? Yes. Over the phone? No. By mail. 5 working days. Security you see. Presumably if they give out the tax office number, someone might steal the entire tax office building. Lets hope they get the company address right, or they will be sending 'security' information to the wrong address.

Eventually I find a techie who advises me to clear my browser cache. She doesn't know why this works, but it does. I found I had autocomplete on, and having perhaps used a comma before the browser insisted on inserting one. A properly designed HMRC form should accept the data with or without a comma, it's simple, except for them.

Can their techie advise me further on the problem? No, they don't support 'user software' i.e., they cant tell me how to use something as obscure as Microsoft Internet Explorer on their effing website. Now there's customer support for you.

3 effing hours this took, and i'm only submitting it because last time i submitted it it still required 3 more stages... next, blah blah, next, blah blah, next, before you get to the 'submit' button, and I missed the final stage. Which is... enter your ID and password AGAIN. Even though I am already logged in.

All this to get rid of a bloody comma that they could have ignored anyway

Of course, if YOU make a mistake, or are delayed in filing certain info. you are fined. That's public 'service' in this day and age. But it doesn't matter, The civil servants can whine and get to keep their index-linked pensions, and the tax to pay for that has to be raised somehow.

The tax system is absurdly complicated. But that isn't enough. They have to make even the most basic form-filling an ordeal. We do the work, they take the money and get the pensions.

We are governed by cretins who think we have nothing better to do than play dungeons and dragons in their interactive systems. They have no grasp of usability, clarity, accountability or common sense.

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You have my sympathy. They took tax I supposedly 'owed' in March with 1 day's notice, leaving me with less than half my NHS pension for March. (PAYE). Then adjusted my 2011/12 code to take the SAME AMOUNT during this tax year, thus paying themselves what I allegedly owed TWICE. I made

Several attempts to contact them, getting through once after waiting 45 minutes on the phone. No help. I then gave up. But, joy, they discovered their mistake in September and paid it ALL back.

They've done this to two friends of mine, both council pensioners, at the same time. Were they doing this on a grand scale to bolster up the treasury and fend off a downgrade in the UK's credit rating? :(

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The term "Kafkaesque" is widely used to describe concepts, situations and ideas which are reminiscent of Kafka's works, particularly The Trial and The Metamorphosis.

It can also describe an intentional distortion of reality by powerful but anonymous bureaucrats. Another definition would be an existentialist state of ever-elusive freedom while existing under unmitigable control. The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish style of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape. The term's meaning has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurrences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kafka

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The term "Kafkaesque" is widely used to describe concepts, situations and ideas which are reminiscent of Kafka's works, particularly The Trial and The Metamorphosis.

It can also describe an intentional distortion of reality by powerful but anonymous bureaucrats. Another definition would be an existentialist state of ever-elusive freedom while existing under unmitigable control. The adjective refers to anything suggestive of Kafka, especially his nightmarish style of narration, in which characters lack a clear course of action, the ability to see beyond immediate events, and the possibility of escape. The term's meaning has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurrences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kafka

I can vouch for the uncomprehensibility of Kafka, particularly in the original German - and I speak German. ;)

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I can vouch for the uncomprehensibility of Kafka, particularly in the original German - and I speak German. ;)

... very interesting ...

How do you signal the number three with your hand - for example when ordering three beers in a noisy bar?

Index finger, second finger and thumb, or the first three fingers and no thumb?

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HMRC is a nightmare.

One of the pleasant (if a little scary) things about Australia is how efficient the government computer systems are in comparison. You change your married name or visa status in one place, it filters through everywhere very quickly etc. We have an online tax return system that is highly detailed (our tax code is a 'mare), yet easy to use. If you have a tax (or other question) you go to a website and the ins and outs are explained in detail. If your case is unclear, you apply for a personal tax ruling. That ruling the applies to you so you cannot be "got" in retrospect if the tax office decides a general policy different to your personal ruling...unlike the UK

The Australian taxation department computer system was updated about a decade ago. I'd been out of the country for 17 years and when I first lodged a return the system noticed I hadn't sent one in for 10 years, so a whole heap of fines were automatically issued. I called up the central number, explained my situation. The woman in question got access to a scanned copy of my 1992 tax form where I stated I was going to be out of the country indefinitely and hence become a non-resident for tax purposes and all were canceled. (She also brought up information about my company and bank accounts to check my story.) Took me five minutes AND they sent me a letter confirming the decision.

Can you imagine being able to speak to someone in HMRC with the knowledge and power to sort out 10 years worth of incorrect fines (without spending any time in a queue), let alone being able to find a copy of a tax return from 20 years ago?

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Microsoft Internet Explorer

There's your problem. Software that thinks it knows better than you. How was anyone at HMRC supposed to know what your POS was doing?

(this kind of story, repeated again and again and again, make one reason for avoiding Windows).

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HMRC is a nightmare.

One of the pleasant (if a little scary) things about Australia is how efficient the government computer systems are in comparison. You change your married name or visa status in one place, it filters through everywhere very quickly etc. We have an online tax return system that is highly detailed (our tax code is a 'mare), yet easy to use. If you have a tax (or other question) you go to a website and the ins and outs are explained in detail. If your case is unclear, you apply for a personal tax ruling. That ruling the applies to you so you cannot be "got" in retrospect if the tax office decides a general policy different to your personal ruling...unlike the UK

The Australian taxation department computer system was updated about a decade ago. I'd been out of the country for 17 years and when I first lodged a return the system noticed I hadn't sent one in for 10 years, so a whole heap of fines were automatically issued. I called up the central number, explained my situation. The woman in question got access to a scanned copy of my 1992 tax form where I stated I was going to be out of the country indefinitely and hence become a non-resident for tax purposes and all were canceled. (She also brought up information about my company and bank accounts to check my story.) Took me five minutes AND they sent me a letter confirming the decision.

Can you imagine being able to speak to someone in HMRC with the knowledge and power to sort out 10 years worth of incorrect fines (without spending any time in a queue), let alone being able to find a copy of a tax return from 20 years ago?

I am guessing that the system was not designed by EDS or any of the other IT companies that have had British government ministers in their pockets over the past couple of decades, or produced under any of the absurd and incompetently negotiated contracts that allow the developer to charge huge prices for every design change that the gormless civil servants failed to include in the original contract.

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I am guessing that the system was not designed by EDS or any of the other IT companies that have had British government ministers in their pockets over the past couple of decades, or produced under any of the absurd and incompetently negotiated contracts that allow the developer to charge huge prices for every design change that the gormless civil servants failed to include in the original contract.

I presume not. The other thing that is different is the attitude of the staff. Most seem to want to be helpful.

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I've been getting VAT demands, even though I am completely up to date and on time, always. The first one threatened action. I phoned and they apologised for their error. Then I got another. Same phone call, same apology. Yesterday, they made me aware that a VAT collections agent is coming round to collect assets. Total morons.

Isn't your line of work private music tuition?

Is it worth being 20% dearer than the competition and the accounting hassle - there must be quite a big no man's land after the threshold?

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I am guessing that the system was not designed by EDS or any of the other IT companies that have had British government ministers in their pockets over the past couple of decades, or produced under any of the absurd and incompetently negotiated contracts that allow the developer to charge huge prices for every design change that the gormless civil servants failed to include in the original contract.

If you submit vat returns you can make a simple typo in your favour to recompense your wasted time.

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  • 284 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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