Every year, the tax office sends us all a Notice of Coding, a tax code which, in the simple terms I like to apply to financial things, tells us how much we can earn before we hit the tax threshold.
I pay attention to mine because I'm self-employed so it matters. When I was working for others, tax was always deducted from my pay before it arrived so I paid little attention to that code. It didn't feel like it mattered.
The tax bandits have sent the wrong code to millions of people and those people now, on average, pay about £200 a month too much tax. This is all to do with a new computer system (guess who bought it?) which has screwed up. Or perhaps it hasn't.
HMRC denied the system was flawed but admitted there had been difficulties with the transfer of personal data to the new system.
Cynic mode. I don't think it was flawed either. I think they've been rumbled in a scam. Why do I think this?
Officials issued a belated apology and asked people to contact them if they thought a mistake had been made. But many callers have complained they have been unable to get through to the department's helpline.
They've had time to fix it and have done nothing. The mistake was discovered by outside accountants. Now it's been discovered, the tax bandits intend to do nothing about it unless the affected people contact them one by one, on a phone line that's impossible to reach. So if you're employed, never check your tax code, don't know about tax codes and how they work, and haven't heard about this, you'll just pay the tax and not know why you're short of money.
Pensioners will pay too much on their pensions, some things like company cars will be double-taxed. It's their mistake but you are expected to fix it.
Still happy with the highwaymen?
This is only the latest problem to engulf the HMRC. Last week it was revealed that thousands of injured soldiers have received letters wrongly stating that they will have to pay 20 per cent tax on their war pensions.
The notices, which were sent to nearly 200,000 former soldiers and war widows, were also caused by the defective computer.
But former members of the Armed Forces who have fallen victim to the blunder are having to contact HMRC because the Whitehall department has refused to correct its own mistake.
Soldiers on war pensions will pay tax unless they all, one by one, contact the tax office - assuming they know they shouldn't be paying that tax. The tax bandits know it's their mistake but they have refused to correct it.
Why? Because they are Righteous and if they have made a mistake that costs you money, it must be your fault. They will only correct it if you phone them and apologise. If you don't then it's not a mistake and they can carry on fleecing you.
If it was a genuine mistake, all they'd need to do is issue a 'Whoops' statement and then correct it. Not only have they said nothing until it came to light, they have refused to do anything about it unless individuals point out that they've spotted the scam. The only logical conclusion is that it's a scam and they're hoping few enough people will notice that they'll still get away with it. So check your tax codes. If in doubt, phone them, if you can get through. The highwaymen have taken the game up a notch - they want the money and the stagecoach too.
Okay you socialists. I know you're out there.
Go on. Justify this.