Monday, 26 January 2009

The prospect of a ₤100 fine

Time is drawing close to the deadline for submitting one's tax return for 2007/08 and this one has already received a hopeful looking ₤100-fine-sized envelope from what used to be the Inland Revenue. Nowadays they trade as the HMRC or Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, not Harrogate Model Railway Club as I originally thought. I couldn't work out why I was being asked for a hefty subscription - and then I saw that it was for another kind of club entirely.

The reason for the looming deadline is that I've yet to receive a PIN that works. Back in 2008 (ah the nostalgia!), I didn't bother making a paper tax return for Anarchadia Publishing (a member of the Robert Blackman group of Companies), preferring to trust that my IT skills will enable me to make an online submission.

So here we are with a few days to go (possibly less by the time you read this) and still no tax return filed, a pile of rejected PINs on special secret paper and that hopeful envelope smirking at me from its pigeonhole in my escritoire.

What seems to have happened is that I have entered into a kind of infernal loop. I registered before Christmas for the Unique Taxpayer's Reference number and Government Gateway card and then got my PIN . Apparently all this is necessary so that Al-Quaeda don't de-stabilise the British Government by paying my tax bill.

Let them I say.

After three goes at entering this PIN the system freezes you out and automatically issues a new PIN. What I think may have happened is that I entered one of the other code numbers instead of my PIN, thereby caasing another PIN to be generated. When this didn't arrive within 5 working days, I logged in again to hasten my PIN. Two days later a PIN arrived but it was not the one that I'd hastened. It wa sthe one before. Of course, this was not recognised when I tried it and, after three failed attempts with an out of date PIN, the system generated another one for me. As soon as the next PIN arrived, which would have been okay to use afew days earlier, I’d try activating my self-assessment area with a PIN that had been superseded.

This could have gone on indefinitely but I managed to speak to someone on the helpline. This 7 days a week from 8 till 8, which sounds pretty good until you discover that it’s inundated by callers and an automated voice tells you to try again later.

At about 1955 hours on a Sunday I got through and explained my predicament to someone who probably already had his coat on. He explained what had happened and didn’t seem in the least surprised by it. All I can do now, he said, is wait for another PIN to come through the post within 5-7 working days and then try logging in again.

The clock is ticking….

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