As the last tax returns get removed from the filing list, we breathe a sigh of relief and thoughts turn to all the other things put off until February. That is until the HMRC calculations start coming through the door. These are where their calculations differ from the figures we have calculated. One or two are acceptable-where perhaps some tax had been included in a PAYE code which we had failed to pick up. However, there are some that have really “got to me”.
Marriage allowance – worth £220 to the client. We submitted a tax return on 25 July 2017 and advised the client she had £97 to pay and to expect a payslip early in 2018. This did not arrive, and she was chasing us. We looked at the HMRC online account on 10 January and it showed blank – nothing. 2 weeks later we received a calculation (dated 19 January) showing £317 payable- no transfer of marriage allowance had been included. It had taken nearly 6 months to process the return – apparently as it had not been captured properly when filed!
The quickest way to sort this was to phone the agent helpline and explain the position. HMRC said they had no note of this on her record. We pointed out that a claim was posted to them in August 2016 asking for the transfer for 2015/16 and all subsequent years. After a few minutes on hold, he agreed to process the transfer – from wife to husband he said. We said no – it was a transfer from husband to wife. He agreed to make the adjustment and said it would be a few days before the revised calculation arrived.
The client received her copy first – and had a sleepless night wondering how the tax payable was now £537, and what were we playing at? Our copy arrived, and the transfer of the allowance had been made the wrong way!
A further telephone call to the agent helpline was made. Sorry, but it was now a past year and they could not do anything about it. The client would need to call an HMRC specialist unit and they would tell her how to sort it!
This raises several issues:
The client really would not understand what she had to do or what was required so we would have needed to sit in with her while she made the call and assist her.
We could have been sitting there for 30 -40 minutes whilst she waited to get through.
What would the specialist unit have told her to do? Would they say go online and claim again? But the reason a paper claim was posted to them in the first place was that the husband has no passport or bank account so could not get through the security to make the claim online!
Post in a claim again? What purpose would that serve? They have a claim already.
What to do now…? A formal complaint was drafted and would have been sent but I was away from the office for a couple of days. It was being prepared to send on my return to the office and the phone rang – it was HMRC!
The officer said he had reviewed the matter and would make the necessary adjustments. I thanked him for the call and asked why he was now able to deal with this when we had been advised earlier in the week that it was not possible. He said it was the standard procedure for the staff answering the phones where they could not deal with it directly. So the issue is solved, but an inordinate amount of time and effort had to go into this to try to sort out errors created by HMRC. Who is going to pay? The costs outweigh the benefit to the client and she won’t pay!
When we submit a return and it passes all the validation checks before being filed, and we calculate the tax, why do HMRC assume their systems are correct and ours are wrong and just fire out their own calculations, without any investigation or checking (apparently)?
Any other gripes… or is just me?