Monday, 26 December 2016

Tax doesn't have to be taxing - a public service reminder from C@W

Good Capitalists obviously try to reduce their tax burden where legal (and morally appropriate). One easy way to do this is to file your tax return on time and avoid a surcharge! Back when Greg Hands MP was a fan of a small state and lower taxes (he once drove a steam-roller to the Tory party conference waving a placard demanding FLATTEN TAXES NOT THE ECONOMY!) he used to say that taxes should be paid all in one go just after Christmas, so people would be metaphorically writing their cheques straight after finishing the turkey. The idea was that it would make people notice how much they were really paying and maybe increase the democratic pressure for reductions. Ancient history, of course: they are all Butskellites now.

Anyway as is the annual tradition, the BBC recently ran a fun article, no doubt supplied with a neat press release from HMRC, revealing some of the excuses that have been given for late filing of tax returns - presumably hoping that the excuse would reduce the fine.

My personal favourite: "My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for 10 days."

I am sure that our esteemed readers have heard, or perhaps even used, excuses for not having done something they know they should have done. What is the best our readers have heard/used?

BE usually does his tax return early, as the "real time" PAYE system doesn't seem to be able to take into account his SIPP pension contributions, and he is invariably owed a refund by HMRC each year.


Anonymous said...

No only do HMRC demand that you pay your exact tax liability, as determined from your tax return, by the due date of 31 January they also play fast and loose with your estimated future income, on which they demand half of the estimated tax by end-July, a full 6 months before any of it officially falls due.

Where is the consumer watchdog to protect taxpayers from this sharp practice?

Anonymous said...

What are taxes for, exactly ?

A government can "print" all the money it needs, just by changing a number on a spreadsheet.

They could save a substantial sum by abolishing HMRC.

Don Cox

Electro-Kevin said...

"I am sure that our esteemed readers have heard, or perhaps even used, excuses for not having done something..."

Never heard of in my industry.

Nick Drew said...

... and since it's Xmas, you can have my (true) shaggy dog story of a truly amazing excuse

many years ago when a soldier I was sent to take part in a big RAF exercise in Germany: there were lots of extras such as myself flying in for the Ex, it was December and, appropriately, there was No Room At The Mess. So I was booked into a hotel.

A driver brought me at about 9 in the evening from the flight, deposited me + my kit on the pavement outside the hotel in the dark, and disappeared off into the night. The proprietoress (small hotel, small town) gazed mournfully at me, my kit and her register, and proclaimed she was full: no room for me. This was before the days of mobile phones and the only contact numbers I had were for offices that would by then be empty. So I asked to leave my kit in her baggage room and went off down the road to find another hotel.

Next morning I rang my contact, who came steaming into town to find out WTF (the RAF put a lot of business her way). He assured me he had dropped by the hotel at 6 the previous evening specifically to double-check the already-made booking for Captain Drew. He confronted the Frau with these facts, whereupon she suddenly said - I know what has happened, alles klar!

And this was her excuse.

She had understood his enquiry the previous evening to be an additional booking for a second Captain Drew. She had erroneously accepted this extra booking, forgetting that she was already full; "and so when your comrade arrived last night, I had to tell him we had no room!"

So, err ... when I arrived - why wasn't I the first Captain Drew ?!

Bill Quango MP said...

Similar to ND's story -

I had a motor insurance court case where the driver of the car that I claimed had pulled out without looking, and that had caused me to swerve and crash, was denying he was involved in the accident in any way. He claimed he was was just parked at the side of the road when a speeding car ran off the road in front him.

In the court case my brief let him explain how he was parked, perfectly within the law, in a a layby, eating his lunch.

And then asked .."Then why did you give out your name and address to my client after you witnessed his 'accident?'"

"well..just in case he needed a witness...for some reason..I saw the whole thing..maybe break failure.."

"I see...and your spirit of public citizenship also prompted you to detail your licence plate, make and model of vehicle and your insurance details, too?"

Easy win.

Anonymous said...

> No only do HMRC demand that you pay your exact tax liability, as determined from your tax return, by the due date of 31 January

I always file on time but rarely pay on time. Never had any kind of hassle.

Also I got into shit for not paying class 2 for a few years because the direct debit had failed at some point. Tried to set it up again and apparently they no longer accept DD for NIC but I was assured I would get a bill in April for the next year's. Still not received anything...

Do I even bother to mention the part where my dad has two NI numbers? It's like they don't want our money.

Anonymous said...

Since we're on the topic of excuses. One time at school I hadn't done the homework and was talking with two friends who also hadn't. I decided this time to not make an excuse and just said "I couldn't be bothered" at which point the teacher lost her shit and sent me home (I lived like 2 mins away so this was actually a good day off).

From that point it became clear that sometimes excuses are better then the truth.

Anonymous said...

Missing info from the previous comment: My two friends made up the most dumb ass "I forgot / my dog ate it" excuses. They were blatantly lies and were accepted by the teacher which is why I learnt that excuses beat truth.

Anonymous said...

@ why wasn't I the first Captain Drew ?!

She didn't like your face, mate, (and who can blame her?)

Anonymous said...

On the topic of self-assessment:

I don't know if any of you shop at Tesco, but from at least 2010 to 2015, Tesco were selling Visa gift cards with no fees (3V / These were accepted as debit cards by HMRC's website.

Over the years I bought tens of thousands of these with various credit cards and used them to pay my HMRC bills. In fact I would overpay. Since Tesco's computer thought I was spending so much, they frequently sent me lots of 10% off and 20% off coupons, which can be applied to gift cards provided the cashier can be convinced to scan them (thus you always go to the old biddies who are busy chatting to each other).

In addition to the discounts on the actual cash, I earned so many clubcard points and airline miles that my business travel bill cost about 10% of what it would have otherwise.

By overpaying and then getting automatic refunds from HMRC into my bank accounts, they were basically giving me cash from my credit cards for no fees / interest at all plus the usual rewards points.

This was all discussed on closed forums but eventually some blogger decided to publish it publicly and HMRC noticed they were paying too many fees to banks so stopped this from working. And Tesco and realised they were losing so much money that they stopped selling these gift cards.

Blue Eyes said...

That's similar to that story in the early days of loyalty cards where the chap discovered that Tesco offered more in points for bananas than the bananas cost...

Anonymous said...

When a lot of the BOGOF offers appeared in supermarkets, that was also a good time to fill your boots too, mainly as marking down prices hadn't quite caught up with electronic pricing.

In Sainsbury's I got a pile of 99p pork pies marked down to 10p and which were BOGOF, and at the till it dutifully added 10p, then another 10p, and - as it was BOGOF - knocked 99p off. Every 2 packs of pies were worth -79p. And I had a lot of packs.

Reduced my shopping costs somewhat. A few cases of them owing people at the tills caused them to modernise their pricing down, but for a couple of years it was a nice trick!

raedwald said...

In this post-Chrimbo hiatus some years ago I was in the mood for some sparkling wit and some serious alcohol intake. The Colony club was closed for the duration so I started in the French to see who was about. Only poor Duncan, one of the most boring but inoffensive creatures on earth, was slumped at the bar. No one had been in, no one had gone to Blacks. I tried the Coach, which Norman had left in the hands of some maltese teenagers, then Roxy Beaujolais' then the Pillars but all were dead. OK I thought, one more in the French and I'll wander down to the Harp and home.

I grabbed a bar stool and sat. "Anyone around?" a familiar voice asked. "No" I growled "only dreary Duncan." There was a pregnant silence as the actualite penetrated my mind.

"Uhm, not you, Duncan" I spluttered feebly "I meant ..another dreary Duncan .."

It was two years before he spoke to me again. Which was a bit of a blessing really. But at the time I felt truly awful.