Online filing is against my religion

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Well, not MY religion personally, but apparently there are some people who can use this as a legitimate reason not to file their P35 online next year.

The latest Employer Bulletin magazine says that there are some exceptions to compulsory online filing of end of year PAYE returns, and one of those is:

"employers who are a practising member of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications".

Any idea who they're thinking of? I can't think of a mainstream religious group that could make that claim.

The trouble is, the exemption is a bit short on detail and definitions. For example, is humanism a religion in this context, and if so do it's adherents describe themselves as "practising members"? Could this open up claims for exemption by politically motivated atheists and others who just object in principle to having to use the Internet for government communications?

I can just see one or two of my clients wanting to have a go at this one. The West Country is renown for its multi-couloured mishmash of New Age beliefs and practices. Somewhere out there is a practising pagan sitting in his yurt filling out this week's P11 entries by firelight - I reckon he's going to have a good case for not filing his P35 online next year!


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13th Oct 2009 16:49

They are thinking of...

... the more separatist congregations of the Brethren, often wrongly referred to as the Plymouth Brethren. At the most conservative end, they don't use computers, radio or TV.

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By chatman
14th Oct 2009 13:00

What do you think humanism and atheism are?

Can't see why humanism would make someone object to on-line filing, but if you are looking for a religion to ridicule, why not pick on one of those ones for which belief in magic (such as the concept of a god) is a pre-requisite?

Atheism is not a religion, and as religions are organisations which seek political power (the mainstream ones, at least), an atheist is less likely to be "politically motivated" than a religious follower.

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2009 14:16

A bit deep this one

Amish don't use computers, as far as I know.

Religion is a bit deep for an accountancy website - I learnt long ago that everyone has a different opinion and they all think they are right.

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By sluglet
14th Oct 2009 14:21

Political Correctness!

Oh dear. Chatman your posting is so wrong on so many different accounts that I don't know where to start. As I don't want to go on a rant I'll just pick one - "an atheist is less likely to be "politically motivated" than a religious follower". If that's the case then how come the house of commons isn't full to the brim with religious folks and not an atheist in sight? As for "politcal" correctness is that something that was thought up by the church? In practice political correctness is all too often a tool for atheists to try and silence religious tolerance and debate in the name of free speech!!

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Careful now

Just a friendly reminder to be quite careful and considerate about what you post in response to this blog or any of the succeeding comments - religion is a very sensitive and personal subject; let's not allow this space to become a place where people air their different views about 'religion', please keep comments directly tailored to responding to the blog.  I don't want anyone becoming offended or upset, as I'm sure you wouldn't either.

Thanks for your understanding in this one folks.

Becky Midgley

Community manager

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By Anonymous
14th Oct 2009 16:49

I practise Paganism and Accountancy and I don't live in the West

Surprised you there, then :-)

Pagans generally do like to get back to nature whenever they can, but they doesn't mean to say they have any philosophical objection to using modern technology.

I don't know of any Pagans, either, who live in yurts - we like our home comforts like anyone else!!

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14th Oct 2009 21:17

Nothing like religion and politics
to get everyone going!

Sorry if my attempt to spark a genuine theological/philosophical debate on the definition of religious order sounded like I had it in for humanism.

The question I was trying to pose was that this exemption refers specifically to "employers who are a practising member of a religious society or order" and I was wondering if there were any circumstances where a secular humanist or atheist could describe themselves as such. If so, they could not - by definition - object to the use of the Internet on 'religious' grounds, but if they had some personal objection to communicating with H M Government electronically - perhaps on plotical or ethical grounds - could they use this exemption?

A bit deep maybe.

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14th Oct 2009 22:17

Someone who doesn't use a computer is . . .

. . . unlikely to post about it here!

There is a farm a few miles away from me which has a sign near the gate "INDEPENDANT (sic) TERRITORIES".  I gather his objection is to paying taxes rather than on any deeply reglious / philosophical basis.


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By Anonymous
15th Oct 2009 11:27

What really annoys me.......
is the misappropriated apostrophe in the original blog. Shame on you!

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19th Oct 2009 11:14

If you are a jedi knight can you use the force to file your returns?

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19th Oct 2009 18:55

Crown Dependency of Forvik
There is also the Crown Dependency of Forvik . Stuart Hill, aka Captain Calamity, unilaterally declared the island of Forewick Holm in the Shetland Islands a Crown Dependency. He then refused to pay his VAT in an attempt to prove that because the loan raised through the arrangement struck in 1468 between King Christian I of Denmark/Norway and Scotland's James III, whereby Christian pawned the Shetland Islands to James in order to raise money for his daughter's dowry, was not repaid UK law did not apply to Shetland.

He hoped to be taken to court and produce evidence to that effect but HMRC have so far failed to rise to the challenge.

Read more at:

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By chatman
10th Nov 2009 13:14


Glad you decided against a rant!  

Interesting you mention the House of Commons to support your assertion, when our last Prime Minister believed he was getting messages directly from God.

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18th Feb 2014 13:39


When I read this at HMRC I just shook my head in utter despair.  Why on earth in 2014 are such caveats still even considered?  They may end up getting a whole lot of people trying this on because it is so loosely defined.

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