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Buckingham Palace | AccountingWEB | Harra leads Birthday Honours with knighthood
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Knighthood for HMRC chief Jim Harra in Birthday Honours

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Jim Harra will become the latest HMRC chief executive to be knighted, having been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours alongside retired ICAEW boss Michael Izza, who has been awarded a CBE.

14th Jun 2024
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HMRC chief executive Jim Harra is being made a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath as part of the King’s Birthday Honours.

He becomes the latest in the role to be named a Sir or Dame, following in the footsteps of his predecessor Sir Jon Thompson, as well as Dame Lin Homer and Dame Lesley Strathie.

Harra was appointed a Companion of the Order of Bath in 2015 and has now been recognised for public services.

“I have always been incredibly proud of the work HMRC does to support UK taxpayers and to collect the money that pays for vital public services,” said Harra. “This recognition is very much a result of the collective hard work of everyone at HMRC – and I am truly honoured to receive it, in what is my 40th-year anniversary with the department.”

Period of criticism

Having been HMRC chief executive since 2019, Harra has overseen a period where the department has come under criticism for its poor service, with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) making a fresh call for investment as recently as February.

This was in a bid to “address poor service standards” and “remove a barrier to growth and productivity”.

A series of recommendations were made to all political parties by the chartered accountancy body amid a wider push for HMRC to be backed.

Not long after, Harra himself was in the firing line in front of the Treasury Committee as HMRC was accused of scrabbling to see what it could rescue from “the mess that’s been created” on the back of its decision to perform a remarkable U-turn on proposals to make permanent changes to its helplines.

On the U-turn, Harra said there’d been an “immediate reaction” from a range of stakeholders who’d expressed concerns that proceedings were moving too fast and that they did not have the assurances they needed.

He added that HMRC was aware that those consulted on the proposals “would’ve preferred us not to proceed with it”.

CBE for Izza

Also recognised is Michael Izza, retired CEO of ICAEW, for services to accounting, audit and sustainability, who becomes a CBE.

Izza served in the role from 2006 to 2023 and used his departure announcement to highlight the work he did as chief executive in championing sustainability.

He was also at the helm of the body during the financial crash of 2008, the rise of digitalisation and the shift towards Making Tax Digital, as well as a period that saw the Big Four accountancy firms come under increasing scrutiny for audit failures.

Earlier this year, ICAEW released its annual report which showed that – in its own words – it “incurred employment discontinuation expenses of £216,000 (2022: £260,000) in the year relating to key management personnel”.

“The amount incurred in 2023 is payable to Michael Izza,” added the report.

And finally...

Other notable names securing recognition include:

  • Alan Bates, founder of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, for services to justice (Knighthood)
  • Archana Rao Dannamaneni, customer compliance group, HMRC, for services to tax compliance (MBE)
  • David Evans, director general and general counsel, Legal Group, HMRC, for services to the government legal profession, to tax and to diversity (Companion of the Order of the Bath)
  • Saima Ashraf, senior finance auditor at Merseyside Police, for services to policing (MBE).
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Replies (53)

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By Open all hours
15th Jun 2024 05:11

This says everything about our country and the way abject failure is rewarded.
This spits in the face of our clients.
It was as predictable as it is sickening.

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Replying to Open all hours:
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By FactChecker
15th Jun 2024 21:15

Jim Boy: "For Public Service"! You might wonder what Service? and which Public?

Mind you ... that's no ordinary Knighthood (like for Alan Bates), Jimmy gets a top-notch Knights Commander of the Order of the Bath!

And in case he gets lonely in his lofty eyrie, his old mucker does almost as well:
* David Alan Evans .. Director General and General Counsel, Legal Group, HM Revenue and Customs gets Companions of the Order of the Bath.
"For services to the Government Legal Profession, to Tax and to Diversity"!

Wonder what you get IF you actually achieve something that improves life for anyone else?

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By Paul Crowley
16th Jun 2024 16:57

Services to Diversity? Wasn't that a dance troupe?
Four sets of siblings and a few others.

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By Justin Bryant
15th Jun 2024 07:23

Yes; it's an utterly outrageous disgrace and basically makes me want to puke too. Putin is probably less corrupt than this, when you consider JH's involvement in the 2019 LC scandal and the resulting suicides (akin to the P.O. Horizon scandal). And the Tories wonder why they are so unpopular? Conveniently we can all send our protest vote on 4.7.24 to ensure they are truly dead & buried over this.

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By Ian McTernan CTA
17th Jun 2024 10:07

And yet the next person in the job will also be 'awarded' a knighthood no matter which political party is in charge: senior civil servants basically get gongs as pats on the back no matter how awful they are in the job.

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Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
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By Paul Crowley
18th Jun 2024 17:36

The gongs are for not rocking the boat and admitting that HMRC cannot cope without more funding.

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By Tom+Cross
15th Jun 2024 08:38

The country’s stuffed, and this confirms that assumption.
And 4th July won’t make one jot of difference.

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By AndyC555
15th Jun 2024 09:51

Disgraceful

Alan Bates also became a Sir. 20+ years of tireless, unpaid, initially unsupported and unheard campaigning on the Post Office/Horizon scandal which has uncovered probably the single biggest affront to British justice.

Compared to a well paid, well pensioned job presiding over the biggest fall in service levels I've ever had the misfortune to have to deal with. Given that HMRC is likely staffed with the same mix of incompetents at middle manager and politicising higher managers, interested only in 'protecting the brand' that have been on display at the PO/Horizon enquiry it's doubly sickening.

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Replying to AndyC555:
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By Jane Wanless
15th Jun 2024 11:22

Agreed. Honours should be given for those who have made a positive contribution to society, not to those who have been simply doing their job, for which they've been paid.

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Replying to janewanless:
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By Tom+Cross
15th Jun 2024 14:51

Let’s not forget who ‘recommends’ these awards: The Cabinet Office, in other words, civil servants.
The same cage of turkeys, which Sir Harra belongs to!

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Replying to Tom+Cross:
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By leekris
17th Jun 2024 18:02

Sir Humphrey I see you’ve put put forward Jim Harra for a knighthood.

Indeed Prime Minister, an extremely capable person with many years of valuable public service to the country who now deserves humble recognition for all he has achieved whilst struggling to get by on £217 thousand a year.

But Harra has presided over a shocking fall in HMRC standards, failed to address the tax gap despite vastly underestimating it and ploughed millions into MTD which is running years late and won’t even do what it claims anyway.

And your point is ?

Do you know what his answer was to underperforming helplines ?

Close them, I imagine. Very sensible.

Not only that, previous recipients of this honour have included Robert Mugabe, Nicolai Ceausescu and Benito Mussolini !

And your point is ?

ETC

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Replying to janewanless:
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By Lindamur
17th Jun 2024 09:41

HMRC is a complete disgrace, and giving a random knighthood to someone who has been paid an extortionate salary and pension is appalling.

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By D V Fields
15th Jun 2024 10:34

We need one of those online petitions to stop it along with a freedom of information request to name and shame those who recommended it. Am sure the latter will fail (aka Paula Vennells) but this stupidity has to stop. Unfortunately the honours system is becoming worthless which is a shame for those worthy.

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Replying to D V Fields:
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By AS44NG
18th Jun 2024 22:10

100% this.

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VAT
By Jason Croke
15th Jun 2024 19:14

Commander of the Order of Bath.....shame Harra threw the baby out with the bath water. HMRC is damaged beyond repair, it's only hope is a root and branch rebuild starting with clearing out anyone who is already a Director or above and replacing them with AI because AI is terrible but still better than the humans who decided to close down VAT helplines, chasing carers for 20p whilst ignoring mega-crooks and not spotting en masse frauds right under their noses.

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Ivor Windybottom
By Ivor Windybottom
15th Jun 2024 22:43

Maybe Jim can retire now... that is the only positive I can see from giving him this undeserved award!

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Rob Swan
By Rob Swan
16th Jun 2024 15:43

Sooooo...... lost for words....

If you can't laugh, you're probably on the verge of screaming something unacceptable in polite society.

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By GHarr497688
16th Jun 2024 22:18

Britain is now broken....what a complete farce.....I refuse to Vote Labour or Conservative and before you say it's a waste of a vote....I ain't bothered.

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By Andy Hull
17th Jun 2024 08:39

Revolting. You might as well give Dominic Chappell a knighthood for services to retail

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Replying to Andy Hull:
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By Justin Bryant
26th Jun 2024 13:39
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By euanjohn
17th Jun 2024 08:44

The only good thing about this disgrace is that HMRC will probably take its usual 6 months plus to reply to the invitation to attend Buck House so Harra will miss the ceremony.

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By Ammie
17th Jun 2024 08:51

Whiff's of an "old boys club"!!

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By petestar1969
17th Jun 2024 09:15

Umm, was the first of April delayed this year?

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By Lindamur
17th Jun 2024 09:46

This is a joke. HMRC is a dreadful organisation providing no support whatsoever to it's so called 'customers'. Why reward the CEO at all?????

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By Retrocanary
17th Jun 2024 10:09

I have nothing but pure anger for this.

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By Mr J Andrews
17th Jun 2024 10:14

K.C. Order of the Bath indeed . An order to bath was moreso needed to remove the stench. Any other accountable situation would have seen Harra taking an early bath. But we all knew what was coming.
It's an equal disgrace that Charles is conned into these automatic ''awards''.

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By Swimmingagainstthe Tide
17th Jun 2024 10:22

Gongs such as knighthoods and MBE's are all about the power of patronage and the rewarding of loyalty to those with such power. It is almost never about the value of the service given in a wider sense. Jim H's knghthood demonstrates this perfectly. He has presided over the most shocking fall in the standards at HMRC but he has been quietly doing the government's bidding without causing them distress.

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By Husbandofstinky
17th Jun 2024 10:48

It's a knighthood Jim, but not as we know it.

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By agknight
17th Jun 2024 10:48

Scrolling down (up for you) I read of no one thinking Harra's award is deserved, not one. I wonder why(?). Yet a group of people in a room found no shame or irony in its giving.

Honours ceased to have value many many years ago. I'm pleased my idol, David Bowie, did not accept one, I think saying he felt undeserved.

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By cfield
17th Jun 2024 10:54

I remember a good Spitting Image sketch back in the 80s after Ronald Reagan had been awarded the Order of the Bath for services to Britain. He thought it meant he had to take a bath, so they had the Queen sticking her head in the bathroom to explain he hadn't been ordered to take a bath.

This shows how completely out of touch the people who run this country are. They award themselves gongs and titles and think the rest of us are mightily impressed, yet most people see them for what they are, just badges for rising to the top, mainly due to who their parents were or where they went to school rather than any real record of achievement.

What we should do is set up a rival awards system restricted solely to people who really do deserve it as a mark of respect for their contribution to society. I don't know who's going to run that body, but we need to make sure the powers that be are excluded from it, and also that it doesn't get infiltrated by all the fanatics you get these days. Just ordinary men and women with common sense. I suppose the media will have to be involved or it wouldn't see the light of day, so long as it doesn't get bogged down in woke ideology. If that worked, the current system would soon fade into irrelevance.

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Replying to cfield:
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By Justin Bryant
17th Jun 2024 11:30

Good idea. Here's one such list (that I'm proud to be on!).

https://www.probonorecognitionlist.org.uk/Recognition-List

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Replying to cfield:
Rob Swan
By Rob Swan
27th Jun 2024 08:45

I agree completely but....

Exclude the powers that be an they will ensure the media pay no attention.
Exclude the fanatics and the media will be all over it with 'bad' press.
Involving the media will require/necessitate sufficient (too much) woke ideology.

The 'media' do not want "Just ordinary men and women with common sense." and in the modern world that's just too 'boring' to get any attention or traction. We live in an age of extremism, click-bait and minuscule attention spans

Sorry, but modern Britain has got what it deserves by rejecting the very thing you propose, allowing all manner of 'foolishness' to prevail, not having the moral courage to always do what's right, and shying away from common sense whenever someone says "Oh, you can't do THAT!" 'Common sense' requires enormous courage and Britain is the land where people 'think' they have it but stand idly by saying "Ohh, somebody should DO something about that."

That's why we have all the AML nonsense, instead of just applying 'common sense'.
It's why we have a dysfunctional tax system, instead of a 'common sense' one.
It's why MTD has become a nonsense - NO SENSE, common or otherwise.
It's why nothing works, because people didn't USE 'common sense'.

Thank you!
Rant over ;)

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Replying to Rob Swan:
By cfield
27th Jun 2024 09:53

You're perfectly right of course. We get what we deserve. The only alternative to a free media though, for all its faults, is a state controlled one. Do we want to end up living under a man like Putin? Once you bring in restrictions over our fundamental rights of self-expression , where does it all lead to?

Perhaps the answer to the relentless advance of woke ideology and group-think is to have a proper written Constitution where freedom of speech is clearly set out within appropriate parameters and protected by law. Anyone trying to undermine it would face prosecution. That would allow and encourage people to write/speak freely again without fear of persecution. No social pressure to either jump on the latest woke bandwagon or shut up.

Another of my pet ideas is to take the parties out of politics by making all MPs sit as independents with no party affiliations and campaign solely on their personal credentials. All the voters need to see on the ballot is a couple of scores decided by AI and their answers to a standardised bank of political/social questions. One would show us where they stand politically. The other would indicate how fit they are to represent us, based on their knowledge, experience and what these people have actually done with their lives.

It would also be truly democratic as it would be the real choice of the people rather than a tiny cohort of party members deciding who we should vote for. No longer would voters be able to just tick the box for their favourite party. They'd have to actually look at the candidates and use their intelligence to decide on the best one.

Yes, I know we can all stand as independents now, but you're almost certainly going to lose. Take away the parties, treat them like the private clubs they really are, and everyone would stand a chance. By the law of averages, the candidates with the best scores and moderate views would almost certainly win. Then the country could be run properly without everything being unduly influenced by the polls and the media.

That way, we could take all the acrimony out of politics as there would no longer be any "them and us" to go hammer and tongs at each other. We could debate all key issues in an adult, sensible way, as opposed to all this rubbish about betting scandals, how rich you are, how out of touch you are, crashed economies, blatant fear-mongering, concocted statistics about tax, migrants, net zero, poverty, food banks, etc, just to demonise the other side, wind people up and pretend your lot have got all the answers.

Will never happen of course, but if were starting again, that's how things should be.

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By AndyC555
17th Jun 2024 10:59

I've just remembered that whilst I was at HMIT (as was) the retiring District Inspector of the district I was in was awarded an O.B.E.

We cynically referred to that as an award for Other Buggers' Efforts.

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By djames
17th Jun 2024 11:12

Absolute disgrace. Sickening. A slap in the face for professionals all over the country and an example of why the current system of government is not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced by a system that benefits the majority and not the minority.

This man has brought service levels of HMRC to an all-time low, has wasted billions of taxpayer money on 'flagship' systems that do not (and will not) work and has alienated a whole sector. And let's not forget the Loan Charge scandal and subsequent terror tactics of HMRC that has led to multiple suicides, bankruptcies and even termination of pregnancies. Harra should be held accountable for this, not rewarded. By rewarding him the government are endorsing his actions. If this does not prove that our government is heading towards a totalitarian state I don't know what does.

This man doesn't deserve his £200k salary (plus bonuses and generous pension) let alone a knighthood, a thought that is probably echoed by the thousands of HMRC staff who had to have a wage increase recently to ensure HMRC complied with the NMW.

I suggest that the idiots responsible for this nomination make some basic comparisons to HMRC service levels before and after Harra, and then spend a week on the telephone trying to resolve a few simple tax issues with HMRC.

Revolution anybody?

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By Marlinman
17th Jun 2024 11:24

Knighthoods have been devalued by giving them to civil servants. A good clear out of the dead wood is needed.

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By yogibear47
17th Jun 2024 13:00

Have read the many comments, thank you and for once almost "lost for words"
Never thought after more years than care to remenber be dealing with such a Gvt Dept, as many clients have commented to me, "if we are customers of HMRC, can we shop elsewhere"
So sad, once a Department pleased to work with, discuss casses with and get results!

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Replying to yogibear47:
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By bendybod
17th Jun 2024 16:41

Along with being customers of water companies where, similarly, we have no choice as domestic "customers".

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By Rgab1947
17th Jun 2024 13:33

A reward for failure.

The incentive is to really c*ckup so that he can get a Lordship

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Tornado
By Tornado
17th Jun 2024 15:31

What upsets me most is that I am not on the gong list :-(

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By AdamJones82
17th Jun 2024 15:38

And this shows exactly why the Honours list means diddly squat.
It's a participation award at best

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By philomena
17th Jun 2024 16:20

I as all the comments am absolutely gutted - luckily I am now retiring. If it were not for the clients I would suggest go on strike. Best of luck to remaining accountants and 45 years ago I loved my work and remember actually going to a tax office and speaking to staff and Inspectors. There is an e-mail address for Jim Harra and I intend sending a message to him to state what an awful service he has presided over HMRC to his CLIENTS! I suggest that you do the same.

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Replying to philomena:
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By bendybod
17th Jun 2024 16:42

There will be an out of office response on it.

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By bendybod
17th Jun 2024 16:46

I'm not speechless because it takes an awful lot to surprise me these days, and I am not surprised. I try to save my energy when it comes to getting wound up about things over which I have no control. And, clearly, this is something over which none of us have much control, other than by voting for an alternative shower of incompetents on 4th July. The only thing that makes me feel marginally better about the general state of the country is that, having friends in other "developed" countries, they're not in a much better state.

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By sammerchant
17th Jun 2024 17:07

Mutual admiration society comprising selectors and selected. Merit not essential, in fact may even prove to be a detriment.

Rewarding failure of the grossest kind.

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By Jack the Lad
17th Jun 2024 18:25

I forecast this some months ago, but claim no credit for a foregone conclusion. What is disgusting, apart from the appalling "service" by HMRC for which Harra is responsible, is that he accepted this honour knowing how appalling it is and knowing that he is responsible.

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By D V Fields
17th Jun 2024 19:36

Unfortunately the Committee thought there were calls for him to get knighted. Although it did sound like that.

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By JacquiMBurns
17th Jun 2024 19:54

I had to check the date to make sure this wasn't somebody's very sick idea of a joke!
So he gets a knighthood & what do the benighted users of the mess he has made get.....
1. Hanging on for an hour, & sometimes more, until a recording says 'Your call is very important to us. Goodbye'.
2. Not getting even that far before being told 'We're very busy right now & cannot take your call. Goodbye'.
3. Being actually answered after going through their recorded security process & saying what you want to discuss & then being told by a recorded message of course 'You can say things like "I want to import a car"' when that is the last thing most people want to do....they want a response to their last letter sent month's ago!
4. Or getting through the debacle in 3. & then getting put through to the wrong section anyway.
5. Trying to access a form & then finding it totally unusable...particularly when applying to Opt to Tax.
6. Not getting the approval of the Option to Tax that you used to get & trying to explain the fact to a client's solicitor that HMRC don't bother with that anymore & it is up to you to apply properly & make sure you are entitled to do so. And then, if it all goes pear-shaped when you try to sell the property, tough luck!
7. Getting through to an actual person who then recites exactly what it says in the VAT guide despite the fact that you have read that so many times you can practically recite it cover to cover & the reason why you are calling is because it doesn't actually cover the point you are asking about. Then being told someone will call you back......don't hold your breath..they won't.
8. And my particular hate.
A) Trying to print out an application for VAT registration for future reference. This used to be an option after you had submitted the application & covered 3 sides of A4 paper. Now you have to remember to do it BEFORE you press submit & it takes up 11 sides of A4 because it only uses about half the actual side & then a simple phone number takes up 2 lines whilst down the right side is a load of un-needed waffle on each page.
B) Try printing out PAYE payments made to make sure your figures agree to theirs & their figures come out printed over this waffle down the right hand side so you can't read the amount!!!

OK I am going to stop here because if I start on how you can't actually be put through to the department who deals with the actual information you want because 'We can't transfer calls', I may just scream!!

But it's not all bad. Sometimes you do get an angle answering the phone who goes the extra mile & looks up the records & tells you what is happening & even offers to send an email to the relevant section (and does so). You then only have to wait for a few weeks before you actually get the info. you needed for the Vat return, or for the completion of the sale of the property. (one client lost a sale worth £500K / Another paid £64,000 on a VAT return within time but accidently entered 1 digit wrong in the sort code. It was still an HMRC account but it took them nearly a year to trace the payment because the person answering the phone kept putting the search of the correct account rather than the incorrect one I gave them over the phone & in an email & on their own search form...aghhhhh!).

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By RICHARDBIBBY
17th Jun 2024 21:40

Buggins turn for a Knighthood. He joins a long list of others.

I await all the professional bodies congratulating Jim for receiving this well deserved honour.

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By peter morgan
18th Jun 2024 03:41

Oh Boy.
Have they learned nothing from the Vennells Gong fiasco?
The glad handing of the Establishment just for being in a pubilc service role (no matter how well or badly they perform it) simply has to stop.
It's ridiculous.
I am unilaterally withdrawing automatic kudos to anyone going by 'Sir' until they explain to me how they came by that Salutation. It's no longer an automatic badge of respect for me.

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