Helpful HMRC

HMRC have revealed the top 10 reasons why taxpayers submit their tax returns late. Some of them very amusing such as “I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs”, however, I’m sure one of the most commonly used and will be commonly used for the foreseeable future will be “you cut me off when I contacted your helpline.”

HMRC have also come up with this idea of tweeting them your tax queries at the twitter address @HMRCcustomers, in a bid to contact them that way if you get cut off calling them. We all know this is a bad idea for many reasons as 1) even a simple tax query cannot be summed up in 140 characters 2) HMRC will not be able to answer the query in 140 characters 3) Even though you are not providing personal details, everyone will be able to see that you have tweeted them and that is not particularly appealing. I also do not believe HMRC can use this as a valid excuse if a tax return is submitted late as the taxpayer was unable to get hold of the “helpline.”

Would you tweet HMRC with a tax query? I certainly wouldn’t. Would it not be simpler for them to provide an email address? So the taxpayer can 1) remain anonymous 2) can actually outline the query in detail 3) also receive a response in detail.

As a matter of interest, the top 10 reasons given for the 31 January tax return deadline being missed are 1) My pet dog ate my return and all the reminders 2) I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a post box or get an internet signal 3) I fell in with the wrong crowd 4) I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape a foreign intelligence agency 5) Barack Obama is in charge of my finances 6) I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs 7) A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back 8) I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park 9) My girlfriend’s pregnant 10) I was in Australia. It would appear that most people using the innovative excuses didn’t have much success with HMRC.

HMRC also have another “helpful” twitter account under the twitter name @HMRCpressoffice updates the public on any HMRC press releases and also give reminders of any deadlines that they are urging the taxpayer to follow.

By:Jane Hailstone

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