The lighter side

I would not want people to think that I spend the whole time moaning about the government’s fiscal policy. The trouble is that I started this blog at the time when there had been announced a number of ill-considered policies. But, hey, let’s not say it is all doom and gloom.

As a tax practitioner I have to say that HM Revenue & Customs’ online filing system has been working well this year, at least for Self Assessment Tax Returns. I do not use the online filing for other purposes sufficiently to judge. I think that the user interface for HMRC’s own software is a lot improved and easier to understand, though I use commercial software for Self Assessment. That system uses FTP (I think that is what it is called) and when I started with it a couple of years ago it was very fussy and would reject returns for silly reasons such as characters it objected to. However, as I said, it all works well now, so well done to HMRC for this.

Then again, one has to laugh at some clients who deliver their papers over the Christmas period and expect feedback before the New Year. Yes, of course we poor souls have to work over the holiday, but that is on behalf of clients who delivered their papers at the end of November and early December. If only life were that easy. Receive each set of tax return papers, spend five minutes putting it all together and preparing a return, bill the client and go back to sleep. Actually we work rather hard and aim to give the clients a great service which is value for money, but we cannot manage too many quick changes in telephone boxes. I cannot even think offhand where there is a convenient telephone box in our area.

What I hope for 2008 is that we will have a new era of cooperation with HMRC to get the compliance done, and that there will a better understanding of tax agents’ issues on the part of HMRC (which might develop eventually from the “Working Together” programme) and that we can on our part stop blaming HMRC for everything and lay it on their political masters if we must. It would be nice if HMRC did not call taxpayers “customers” when they cannot take their business elsewhere. Dave, are you listening?

In the meantime, I must get back to working miracles for my clients and doing everything yesterday (it would be great if we could process all the information before we received it) and hope we advisers get a bit more appreciation. I appreciate others when they go beyond their duties. I would thank some staff in HMRC if one were allowed to know their full names as one often isn’t, but there have been one or two, even a few recently who were very helpful. At least they are all very polite (but then so am I).

Happy New Year to all HMRC staff, to anyone who happens to find this blog, and of course to all Rabbit’s friends and relations.

© Jon Stow 2007

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