Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Post tax submission euphoria

I've been feeling particularly high-spirited lately and I've just realised why. It's because I avoided that ₤100 fine for late submission of a tax bill.

Now that not sound a lot to you but there was a principle at stake here and I'd spent a lot of effort for the last two weeks of 2009 and the whole of January 2009 in avoiding that fine.

I managed to submit my return in the end and now I can get on with my other activities. Writing is one of them.

I can allow myself to be stimulated again, instead of shutting down my creativity because "I really must have to do this piece of admin instead".

One day, I'll have an office manager to do that for me. I find administration and business stuff really tedious so it's great to get it out of the way. I have to do now is (assumes exuberant Latin gestures) CREATE!

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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

How I saved a ₤100

Well, I avoided having to pay £100 to the Inland Revenue. My top-secret log in PIN arrived with just a few days to spare and as soon as I had it in my grubby little hands I burst into action, logging on in a blur of fingers and accurately typed alphanumeric characters. The computer said yes and I was able to record my loss in the first year of trading as Anarchadia Publishing without any communist subversives hacking into the system beside me.

Many years ago, in a weak moment, I once tried to train as an accountant but couldn’t understand tax. Someone who worked for me at the time actually taught students in it and said that he would help me.

“All you have to do,” he said, “is ask yourself, is it fair?”

I seem to recall he mentioned something about chimneys as well.

Despite this congenital handicap, I found the on-line tax return very easy to use and look forward to recording a vast profit next year (just for a change)

It has occurred to me that if I hadn’t been able to get into the system to record my loss and been late, instead of being fined (if I had turned a profit), would the HMRC then owe me money?

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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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