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How long does it take to change 150,000 lightbulbs?



Less time than it takes to process a tax return. By today's date our friendly chimpanzee could have changed close on 150,000 lightbulbs.


One of our clients submitted her return to HM Revenue & Customs in March 2009 for the previous year. Yes, it was a little bit late, but that's it. It is not a complicated return - a little bit of self employment and some P60 earnings. A trained chimpanzee with a certificate in picking up banana peel could have done it faster.


It somewhat begs the question about what you - or I can do about this parlous state of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.


However it only gets worse.


In chasing up the return - which only today was discovered unprocessed in the depths of the Centre 1 processing unit - I was told by my delightful call centre contact that she would send an urgent message to the processing unit to contact me.


Thinking I would wait around instead of going for lunch, I said,


" Oh, and when will I get a call - this afternoon?"


"No, sir, sometime in the next three working days"


In the next three working days I suspect another 1350 lightbulbs could be changed by our now super efficient chimpanzee. Clearly they have more important things to do and if this were a single instance of gross inefficiency, I maybe would have become less hypertensive about it, but its not.


A short while ago, HMRC invited one of my clients who had never been asked to complete a tax return to provide them with 6 years worth of returns all at once. This took approximately 9 months to complete or in my new measure efficiency of the tax office, just less than 87000 lightbulbs.


I return to my original point - what can you or I do about it?


We can complain. You will get no redress. No compensation for failure of their service standards. No satisfaction.


So are they just short staffed (and isn't this going to get worse?) or do they need managed better or to work harder?


I'm sure that someone will comment - and please feel free to do so anyway - well you should have submitted it on line. We tried, but HMRC had already logged the paper return and that blocked the electronic one and that is how things are to this day. The electronic one can't get through till the paper one is processed or deleted and it can't be deleted because it's been logged.

So what was HMRC's solution?

Submit another paper return. Which would be processed as general post and sit in the bundle of mail at Centre 1. We understand that the mail backlog alone is between 4 and 6 weeks.

Isn't there something very far wrong when it takes between 4 and 6 weeks just to pick up a piece of correspondence and start to answer or handle it?


PS - I'm off to climb a tree...

Tags: hmrc

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