Sunday, 7 February 2010

Highwayman II - the slipping mask.

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?

There's more.

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.


Anonymous said...

im happy to say that i no longer pay tax as a non resident. no reason for this statement other than im really happy i no longer pay tax to fund the incompetancy. it is temporary but liberating

PT Barnum said...

As a some-time, would-be democratic socialist I will say: of course there is no justification for the instances you cite, along with all the others like overpayment of tax credits and their subsequent clawing back.

Income tax began as a means of paying for war.

National Insurance was intended to pay for the NHS.

The first was seen as a necessary evil, the latter a means of providing a safety net of health for all people, where those who had most contributed most.

As time has worn on - especially since 1997 where the tax manual has quadrupled in size and more so in needless complexity - more and more has been taken (and doled out) to less and less purpose. The original goals of taxation - national security and providing a minimum guaranteed standard of living to all - have been lost as governments of all colours and tendencies have created their own client groups and increased their own powerbase and "importance".

We now have deliberately engineered dependent poverty, and, as you rightly point out, the charitable sector has been co-opted to that project. Opt out of the system and you will have nowhere else to go. People are infantilised, government knows best, yada, yada, yada.

What began as a means of giving all people a degree of security and dignity (to me, fundamental to any society which claims to be civilised) has become a nightmare where the customer pays to be robbed of security and dignity in exchange for being treated as a defective child. The removal of the 10p tax band is the quintessence of this: pay more tax, ask for some back. And the parent state can always say No, or Maybe, or Later. This is not socialism in the British tradition. This is somewhere between fascism and an oligarchy.

Well, you did ask.

Captain Ranty said...

Just write to them.

They slash tax bills at the drop of a hat. Two letters I wrote resulted in reductions of £1,400.

I also just claimed a seven year rebate using their own statutes against them.

If they send me a cheque I'll take you all out for a pint..:)


JohnRS said...

Yet another hammer blow by the Righteous against the ordinary citizen - you'd almost think there was a plan wouldn't you?

They never listen, they're always right. Can't we just adopt a more direct approach and hose down HMRC with a flame thrower?

Anonymous said...

Another little scam!

Doing the VAT return. It always arrives 2 weeks before the end of the VAT period, 6 weeks before its due to be paid.
Not now. They now send it out a month earlier, half way through the quarter, 10 weeks before it‘s due. I wonder how many overworked self employed got it wrong? Or was it just me? So it’s a £100 fine for being careless.
Every cloud has a silver lining. It has convinced me to alter the way I work, reduce my turnover, get me below the threshold, and deregister. They were only wasting the money anyway!

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

John R,

I was going to suggest a machine-gun, but on reflection I think you're right; a flame-thrower is a more just reward, and also more suitable for use in an office.

Leg-iron said...

PT Barnum - fascism indeed, but it's where socialism leads to when governments are too weak to control it.

We need soldiers, police etc and it's right that we pay our share towards that. Once the tax is seen as a pot of easy money, all sorts of special interests want to dip into it.

Unless we get a government that will say 'No, it's for national security, not for telling people how much salt to put on their chips', it'll always get worse. The cost will go up, the tax will go up, and government will resort to dirty tricks to add to the tax take on the sly.

Any form of socialism needs an extremely strong government. I don't think we've ever had one that could cope.

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