View Full Version : Bl**dy government red tape!

13th Dec 2014, 21:21
I had to deal with two things today:

1. An elderly neighbour called me in to help her. She had received a form to ask whether she was qualified for jury service. The envelope was correctly addressed to her by her full name, but the form inside was blank.
She had to fill in her name (which they already knew); her address (which they already knew) and her date of birth. Having given her date of birth, she then had to say whether or not she was over 18 and under 70!

2. I received a statement from HMRC for tax due. I went on line to my bank, to do a direct transfer from my account to theirs - as I have done in previous years. A very simple process.
Having completed the details, I received a message that HMRC doesn't now accept direct transfers. I could only do it as an express transfer that would cost me a £25 charge. Their alternative was to pay via some arrangement that they have with Santander Bank.
I logged on to Santander, to find that it wasn't a simple matter of giving my debit card number - I had to register for some form of account with my personal details. I have had a very poor experience of Santander, and wasn't prepared to give them all this information.
So as a last resort, I had to write HMRC a cheque and post it with a stamp. An outdated, slower, more expensive and unreliable method of payment.

It's about time these national and local government departments were given a bloody good shakeup. They are wasting their and our time and money by their inefficient administration.

13th Dec 2014, 21:31
An outdated, slower, more expensive and unreliable method of payment.Two things -

- It'll piss the govt penpusher off who gets the cheque.

- You've a permanent written record of the date/amount paid/payee etc. Said penpusher can't make up stories that he/she/it didn't receive the payment (in order to extend his/her/its lunch break).

I always send cheques if the bureaucracy in question has a horseshittingly complicated on-line system. What craps these little weaselly buggers off is they cannot refuse cheques.

13th Dec 2014, 21:36
You've a permanent written record of the date/amount paid/payee etc
Only if/when it has been paid in. If the cheque is lost in the post or by the recipient you have no proof that you tried to pay by the required date.
When I pay by direct transfer my bank has an immediate record of the payment.

13th Dec 2014, 21:38
Plenty of ways to pay without having to send a cheque:


13th Dec 2014, 21:39
You take a phone pic of the cheque and the addressed envelope. Works for me, but then I'm not hamstrung by living in the same country as your good self.

13th Dec 2014, 21:41
What gets me is the "kindly pay your extra tax due".

You should RUDELY pay it with as much invective as possible! :E

Lord Spandex Masher
13th Dec 2014, 21:43
Only if/when it has been paid in. If the cheque is lost in the post or by the recipient you have no proof that you tried to pay by the required date.
When I pay by direct transfer my bank has an immediate record of the payment.

Proof of posting will be good enough.

13th Dec 2014, 21:47
I tried to pay online by BACS as I've done before. It wasn't accepted as I explained above.
I wouldn't set up a direct debit since they could take any amount they thought fit. Having been grossly overcharged in the past I prefer to check the amount due and pay it when I'm satisfied it's correct.

Yes but that means a trip to the post office and their queue. I should be able to do it online.

13th Dec 2014, 21:54

HMRC accept thousands of BACS payments per day. Are you sure your account hasn't been hacked or you aren't the attempted victim of a scam?

13th Dec 2014, 22:03
No of course it hasn't been hacked.
The methods of payment were listed on the back of the payment slip which I have sent off with the cheque. I don't recall all the details but it said that online payments should be made through Santander and gave the URL.

I tried to do it online through my bank in the usual way, but got the message that the recipient would not accept direct payments. Whether that was a permanent change or just a temporary hitch I don't know, but it certainly wasn't available.

13th Dec 2014, 22:08
It certainly isn't a permanent change. HMRC are correctly trying to encourage as many people as possible to pay electronically for fairly obvious reasons.

13th Dec 2014, 22:10
They certainly aren't encouraging people to correspond electronically.
We want your money fast, but if you want anything from us....wait.

Current service time to respond to a letter from abroad appears to be 5 months. E-mail not allowed, even for ongoing correspondence.

13th Dec 2014, 22:18
Indeed, Fox, indeed. Whoever wrote this had a background in comedy scriptwriting:

HM Revenue & Customs: Where's My Reply? (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/tools/progress-tool/)

13th Dec 2014, 22:28
The quoted delay is 2 months.
Currently, after a 2.5 month wait, I got a "I'll get your file out" letter. That was 2.5 months ago. Presumably the filing clerk is....dead?
My initial enquiry letter was sent in early April

13th Dec 2014, 22:42
You could send them an email. It looks a tortuous process and I've no idea if it'll expedite things though.

HM Revenue & Customs: Contact HMRC Residency (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/nonresidents/iwtcontact-centre-for-nonres.shtml)

13th Dec 2014, 22:43
I've just paid 50p into my account by BACS, to see if works, and it does. Now maybe I'll write to them and say I paid in error and can I have it back!

13th Dec 2014, 22:55
Suggested email last time. Specifically told no.

From that link
If HMRC need to contact you about anything confidential, they will reply by post or telephone.

13th Dec 2014, 22:57
Of course they will reply by post or telephone on confidential matters as an email would be unencrypted. That needn't stop you sending an email asking for a progress update though.

13th Dec 2014, 22:58
It's simpler than that. Look at the passport renewal situation. If you don't vote and want a service, you're screwed.

Krystal n chips
14th Dec 2014, 05:09
Ah yes, the passport renewal system and the title of this thread.....

Renewed mine in Summer around the time there were a few well publicised glitches. Consequently, decided a day out in Liverpool was the best option.

Staff very helpful and polite, relatively short queue and all going well until, that is, we came to the photographs....

A seemingly well rehearsed routine followed.....pursed lips, slight intake of breath, " not sure about the brightness sir, just need to check with the supervisor" speech....and, short time later, supervisor duly confirms suspicions that the photo's did indeed fail the brightness criteria

However, if sir would like to part with another £5, by a happy coincidence there was booth located opposite the cashiers at the end of the room...

Given the options.....non....one proceeded to have yet another set of photo's taken and, quelle surprise, these met the criteria.

I am fortunate in having excellent vision and the difference between the "failed" photographs and the acceptable photographs was.....non.

There was a steady procession of people using the booth.

Only a cynic etc would thunk........Hmmmm ?

14th Dec 2014, 07:42
So now the procedure is to ostentatiously visit the photo booth, sit inside for a while, stand at the slot waiting for photos in such a way that the counter staff can't see the slot, then take your own photos from concealment and pretend to take them out of the slot, THEN go to the counter to apply for the passport.

14th Dec 2014, 08:01
It'll piss the govt penpusher off who gets the cheque.

Take a clean white candle and rub wax over those parts of the cheque which the recipient will normally mark with a stamp after they receive it and have entered the details in their computer. Do the back as well. Anywhere also that they might write with a biro to note the details as having been recorded.

This will, in your eloquent words, piss the penpusher off even more.

(This anarchistic trick brought to you from the Spontis who had to deal with German bureaucracy).

14th Dec 2014, 09:17

I haven't written a cheque for over 20 years. Don't have a cheque book, nor a chequing account.

Now if you want to hear about bureaucracy getting a cheque issued in this country is one. You personally have to go down to your bank branch, or any of your bank's other branches, stand in the queue for at least 3 or 4 minutes (if not less), tell them what you want, in which currency, value date (believe it or not, you can post-date cheques! Who would have thought?), payée, amount etc. They then ask you to prove your identity with obscure documents such as bank card and passport/national id! They then deduct the monies from your account and issue a cheque payable from them to whomever you have designated (or not, if you choose). They give you a nice window envelope for you to use but YOU have to provide the stamp.

Or you can do this all by phone, or on-line, and they will mail the cheque either to you or to the payée (for a small fee, of course).

Gah! It is much more difficult than going on-line and paying by direct bank transfer.

(Sarcasm intentional) :E

14th Dec 2014, 11:10
Last spring I was required to fill in a four page form for my annual residents report as a Philippine foreigner. The best question was - Is your wife married, divorced,widowed? My response to that one was - who is filling in the form if my wife is widowed?

14th Dec 2014, 12:09
Or the letter from HMRC informing me that as I was self employed, I should make sure my employer was not deducting National Insurance contributions as I was over the age of 65.......

Dan Gerous
14th Dec 2014, 12:33
Currently disputing a 3rd overpayment, in one year, for working tax credits from these knobs. Spent ages on the phone, cut off. Tried to email, not possible. Ended up writing to them. They won't take emails, as they used to, but they claimed it was open to fraud so was stopped. They still expect you to use electronic comms where it suits them though. They said it can be 4 months for a reply when disputing a claim back, (but if you complain it gets dealt with quicker).

I also queried the fact that the phone lines were charged and not Freephone numbers. They said it was because they were responsible for looking after tax payers money, and that we the tax payers will have to pay for the calls to contact them. And of course when you do phone them, and have correspondence from 4 different HMRC locations, the person your talking to, can't access the information from the other sites.

You get letters from this lot, going back to events that happened 18 months previously.

We used to have an HMRC office in this town, but this was shut down. This I suspect is part of ever increasing centralisation, to allegedly save them money, and with the added bonus of avoiding any physical contact with the public. Along with cutting costs and forcing tax payers to use their personal computers etc. to save their office costs, we have to pay for the privilege as well when you phone them.

It's about time this lot realised they work for the taxpayer, not the other way around. Though listening to the radio earlier today, someone has already been looking into their telephone "service" and found it lacking.

Gertrude the Wombat
14th Dec 2014, 16:18
I wouldn't set up a direct debit since they could take any amount they thought fit.
They take the agreed amount - if you didn't like the amount on the statement you'd have challenged it before waiting until payment is due, wouldn't you.

If they screw up and take the wrong amount you can get it back from your own bank.

14th Dec 2014, 16:32
Last year I discovered that I'd been wrongly taxed on some income earned in the UK as a consultant (UK taxpayer but NOR.) I had paid rather then be in dispute with them, but as the overpayment was fairly significant I began the process of reclaiming, which involved numerous letters and phone calls.

Each letter and accompanying statement from HMRC contained examples of poor and incoherent grammar, but what was worse was that some of the statements were not even mathematically correct. When I handed them over to my accountant to see if he could make sense of it, he said quite simply that they were wrong mathematically and this was par for the course.

Each phone call was taken quickly, by people who were pleasant, helpful, and informative, but the information I was given proved generally to be wrong and contradictory.

Shambolic. I did eventually get back what I was due.