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A brief history of my time in tax

Income taxImage by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

I am not going to tell you how long I have been working in tax, but suffice it to say I have a lot of experience. Things have changed so much that it seems to me that the public in general still entertains ideas about tax which are long outdated if indeed they were ever correct in the first place.Once upon a time in the UK tax system, people did not get … Continue Reading

More on catching the tax dodgers

It was announced last month that HMRC’s New Disclosure Opportunity deadline for those with undeclared offshore assets to come clean has been extended from 30th November 2009 to 4th January 2010. This is no doubt because rather fewer delinquent “customers” have come forward than Permanent Secretary for Tax Dave Hartnett hoped, despite the prospect of much more serious penalties for those who are caught or come forward later.HMRC has also revamped its process for receiving anonymous tip-offs concerning tax evaders, details of which are here. To be truly anonymous, one would suppose that many would baulk … Continue Reading

Tax disenfranchisement

It was reported this last week that 1.5 million UK pensioners are paying too much tax which is because too much is being deducted from their occupational and private pensions and from any employment earnings they have. Once upon a time of course, most pensioners with taxable income of any sort had to complete tax returns. Since the introduction of Self Assessment in 1996-97 and increased automation and exchange of information as well as significant job cuts in what has become HM Revenue & Customs, far fewer people have to complete tax returns. In itself this is sensible, because why … Continue Reading

HMRC’s stealth taxation through technology

The Revenue is introducing a new requirement to force agents to submit company accounts on-line in XBRL format from April 2011. Let me quote from their website:“Company Tax Returns and XBRLXBRL stands for Extensible Business Reporting Language, which is an international standard designed for business financial reporting. At the moment accounts and other attachments to online CT600 returns can be sent in PDF format. From April 2011 (and for all CT600 returns due after 31 March 2011) we expect that all CT600 returns will have to be sent online, and will have to … Continue Reading

HMRC and customer service

I wrote recently about Government and in particular HMRC disenfranchising the non-technical population. It is a sad situation, and it means that some perfectly intelligent people and in particular those of an older age group, or perhaps those who work with their hands have to employ people like me to do tasks with which they could have coped if dealing in paper.Because there is almost no one in HMRC with whom the ordinary population can speak who actually knows anything about tax, taxpayers just have to grub along or pay someone else. It gets worse as demonstrated … Continue Reading

Is "progress" disenfranchising the non-technical population?

A couple of incidents recently highlighted have highlighted how easily “progress” can isolate people and prevent them from getting help, and those people are often the neediest.As a tax professional I am used to the bureaucracy of HM Revenue & Customs, though even for me it can be extremely frustrating. I received a form from HMRC concerning a pensions coding (Form P161 for the initiated). It was addressed to my firm, but did not have the taxpayer-client’s name on it, only the National Insurance number. I could not trace the number in my tax software and telephoned HMRC … Continue Reading

A week of curiosities and a valuable reminder

It has been a strange week. On Monday I went to see a client to collect his tax papers, only to find that they were in a locked cabinet to which only his wife had the key, and she was out. It was a short meeting as a result, and I did wonder why my client had not telephoned to save me the journey.Two less eventful days ensued, and I went to my monthly local meeting of tax practitioners on Thursday. “Tell me, everyone” I said, “what do you guys do in the way of marketing?” Six … Continue Reading

Out with the old…

Like most other people in my business, nearly all things in my office are done online. The tax returns have to be submitted by FBI (file by internet); we can read the Revenue manuals online, download their booklets, read the professional magazines and have website communities of fellow professionals. In other words, we have access to every possible resource of information without resorting to the printed word. Then, if we need something printed, then we print it ourselves,Many readers of this piece will recognise this; some will be fellow tax professionals and others will have found their business … Continue Reading

New tax amnesty and old habits

We are starting to hear a little more about the new tax amnesty in the UK, called by HM Revenue & Customs the “New Disclosure Opportunity (NDO),” which follows on from the 2007 amnesty. Now we know that since the original amnesty, which followed on from HMRC’s victory in the Courts over the UK banks defending unsuccessfully their Channel Island branch customers, HMRC has come by a lot more information. Indeed I can infer from what I have heard on the grapevine that the acquisition of information concerning the Lichtenstein accounts has borne fruit, and will continue to … Continue Reading

Has common courtesy had its day?

I try not to make this a whingeing blog. For that reason, if I complain about our dear friends at HM Revenue & Customs, it is the system, bureaucracy and stilted thinking that annoys me, not the staff who have to carry out the wishes of their masters. I cannot recall in recent years ever having had a difficult conversation with a Revenue employee, other than in the rare context that the person was not prepared to strike the best deal I had hoped for concerning a client under enquiry. Certainly there have never been angry exchanges.Having put … Continue Reading