Member Since: 28th Nov 2005
13th Nov 2015
I remember when....
When I worked for HMRC in the 1990s the office contained two local tax offices (i believe there had been just one large office originally, but this had then been broken down in to more manageable 'sub offices' over time, and was then down to just the two), a collectors office and an enquiry centre that people could call in to. it was situated just off one of the main roads in the city centre, and there was (limited) parking in the immediate area.
We had a day out at the Darlington office, which was adopting a new and modern method of working, and pretty soon, our office had merged in to one tax office, although we kept the other services. The place was renovated (ah the delights of security overtime...) and we moved away from allocations of work to dealing with post as it came in to the general 'pool'.
Jump forward in time to few years later after I'd left HMRC to work in a firm of accountants and I could still ring up people I knew could help sort things out for clients.
Jumping further forward to today, and the building is still used by HMRC but is no longer open to the public. Somewhere between this and the last step, things radically changed. About ten years ago I had to call in to what was still the enquiry office, to be met by obstinate and disillusioned employees that didn't come across as the face and image of a modern HMRC.
Sounds like they are returning to the old days - big central offices (like Centre 1 as someone else has commented, or The Triad) - but, the problem of slow turnaround times and a poor telephone service will still exist in the short to mid term, and probably get worse before it gets better. The digital revolution will come to HMRC in time, but probably kicking and screaming all the way, causing trouble as it goes.
This isn't a rant or a 'it was different back then, young people these days, eh?' wander down memory lane - more of an observation on how HMRC changes but not always for the better.
24th Apr 2015
Taking away the ability to control (to a degree) the extraction of income from a close company as it currently stands and increasing the scope for HMRC to fill the coffers does seem a backwards step. Perhaps there should be other criteria for becoming a company/director in addition to those that exist now, which might open up new areas of tax planning/advisory work for our profession, rather than carte blanche swiping at all small companies?
I'm told that if you win the lottery, and decide you want to buy the most expensive Ferrari available, you can't. They don't sell them to just anyone - you need to have owned other Ferrari cars and show a history of owning them. In other words, the dealership will undertake due diligence on the customer before selling them the car. Perhaps a similar approach is needed for limited companies by HMRC?
16th Feb 2015
Penalties should be hard but fair
I agree with others that the old 'no tax = no penalty' was a workable system, as it would encourage payment of liabilities, if not the submission of the return, and for those who had nothing to pay, there was no risk of a penalty.
That said, for those who are still shocked by the thought of being issued with a penalty, or those who have various conspiracy theories about how HMRC logs and uses information, a penalty for late submission regardless of the tax due is probably a good thing, as we as the advisor can justifiably use it as a suitable encouragement for those clients who are dealt with at the end of January.
I fear, however, that for many, the £100 late fling penalty has never been much of a deterrent and those who are regularly dealt with at the last minute will continue to view such a meagre charge as nothing to worry about.
A points system may be the answer, as under the current system, it is often cheaper for the client to be charged a penalty rather than paying an additional professional fee for a provisional return to be submitted, or increased fees (as some contributors suggest) for January rush jobs, all to avoid the £100 charge.
However, we must not encourage any changes to the system that would make the 31 January submission date almost optional. I can see that this might create a more relaxed approach to the annual filing deadline, but how long would it be before we would be back to the pre SA days where three years returns were being submitted at a time!
28th Nov 2014
@CJaneH - The original plan was that you would be a Scottish taxpayer if your main residence was in Scotland, so on that basis, the location of an employer wouldn't matter. I agree that this will make for interesting discussions in the software houses, as advisors may have clients who live in both England and Scotland (and let's not forget Wales, who will be following suit), so the tax software will need to be able to accommodate both tax regimes. How HMRC will differentiate between them all is anyone's guess.
5th Sep 2014
As it's Friday lunchtime, and leaving the loftier news stories aside, glad to see that the music we listen to is still the subject of conversation....
Also glad to see that I'm not the only one who listens to Skrillex and The Smashing Pumpkins, amongst many others.
The latter would no doubt be classed as rock music (indie, alternative etc.), falling in line with the orignal comments that rock was the accountant's preferred choice. However, I'm reliably informed that Skrillex should be regarded as a completely separate genre of music, despite his roots being in rock (for those who are interested try Googling 'From First To Last' amongst other things!) and should not simply be lumped together with other dubstep artistes.
I'm just saying...(at the risk of lighting the blue touch paper, and standing well back, of course!)
10th Dec 2012
Tax isn't taxing....not if you opt out....
Name calling by politians and the media on this scale is just ridiculous! If the legislation allows for it, then why is it their fault if they apply the legislation? I'd agree with earlier comments concerning a two tier system emerging, and that Government has to have the nerve to stand up and acknowledge the issue for what it is, otherwise this will continue until legislation is amended.
I wonder what would happen if they made the changes, would all the multinationals that use the current UK law decide to move on to another tax friendly location, potentially taking jobs with them? What would stop them from doing this?
If the application of tax law doesn't matter for them, can we all take the same approach? The answer is obviously "no" so why can they?
This issue has brought out a skeleton that's been hiding in the closet for a long time and it seems that now it's out there, the monster has grown a little too big to stop - I think it's due to it having its cake and eating it....
18th Jun 2012
Made me smile when I read the last post about "old school" Inspectors - I too can also remember a rather embittered Inspector that used to work in the same HMIT (rather than HMRC!) office as I did, many years ago.
He took great pleasure in telling me that in all cases that he looked at, the burden of proof was most definitiely with the taxpayer and not him, and would adamently defend his position all the way.
Although he revelled in the thought of scaring poor Mr Smith the builder/newsagent/window cleaner/taxi driver etc. with his outlandish tactics, I doubt he did anything of the sort, and simply perpetuated stories about HMRC Inspectors for a little longer.
Slightly ironic then, that computers are now used to wind up taxpayers instead....
1st Mar 2012
If some unsuspecting client gets the reminder and pays the tax again, I wonder if HMRC will still say that they can't repay the tax overpaid until 30 days have elapsed?
10th Oct 2011
road to no-where...
I've also had a similar situation where the inspector challenged a "repair" to an access/service road by a client due to the level of the expense. We ended up inviting him to come and see the stretch of road that had been repaired, and when he did, he agreed to the deduction.
18th Jan 2010
Music for the masses
What about "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton (our playlist last year started with this one!) and "I need a holiday" by Scouting For Girls is another good one.
Some others maybe - "2 minutes to midnight" by Iron Maiden (for all those who will be working right up to the deadline), or "In The Still Of The Night" by Cole Porter or Whitesnake (the phone doesn't ring as much at 8pm).
Roll on 31 January!