Today was always going to be a busy day – Monday always sees lots of tenants waiting to call in from the weekend!
However today was much more stressful than usual – I’d received a letter from HMRC.
Now as any business owner will tell you – you can piss off many people – but never ever piss off HMRC – they really are the key people never to mess with.
It would now appear I had done this…so let me take you back to the start of the story
In June 2010 having done my own payroll for a number of years, I decided that I was just getting too busy and so decided to outsource the payroll to my accountants. Great! Well – it was until my accountant realised that I had paid the PAYE/NIC by BACS to a different payroll department/ bank account of HMRC (they have several) and somehow my money had got lost in the system temporarily…
Anyway the money was eventually found and allocated and all was fine and dandy – or so I thought
4 months later in October 2010 I opened a £500 fine from HMRC for the PAYE/NIC payment being late. I was very confused as they had, had the money and so I duly passed it to the accountants to deal with. They set up an appeal with HMRC and informed me it would take some time, but it would get sorted…
In due course I received a letter from HMRC that they acknowledged the appeal…but then I continually received letters claiming I am ignoring this fine and that I must pay it. I send all documents to the accountant, who again assures me everything is fine, she has spoken with them and I do not have to pay it as the fine is in “appeal”
Then today I open a letter from HMRC debt management department – it reads:
“You have chosen to ignore our efforts to resolve the matter of your outstanding liability.
Your debt has therefore been transferred to our distraint department to schedule a visit to your premises with a view to seizing your goods so that they may be sold at public auction.
If you wish to stop this visit you must telephone the above number within 48 hours of receiving this letter”
OMG I am shaking! I’ve got bailiffs coming to my office take my computers to be sold at public auction!!!!!!
I look at the date on the letter – it says 21 February – it is now 28 February.
I am so anxious that any minute a bailiff is going to arrive in the office. Yes, I confess I was having kittens!
I call the number immediately…and am kept on hold for over ONE hour!
I finally get through and talk to a member of HMRC who looks through my account and says all blase:
“Oh, this has been sent by accident I can see this fine is in appeal”.
“You have sent me this letter by ACCIDENT!!!!” I roar – “What the hell do you think you’re doing sending me a letter like this telling me someone is going to visit my premises and seize my goods to sell at public auction?” I don’t even owe you this money” I am so furious!!
The HMRC lady tries to calm me down – she understands how upsetting it must be to receive a letter like this….I tell her she has NO understanding what it is like to receive a letter like this. I demand to speak to a supervisor.
The supervisor is hugely apologetic – she tells me that these letters are written to cater for a wide range of non-compliant businesses and she understands that as a compliant business to have received this must have been most distressing. She assures me that no-one will visit and that it was an “accident” me getting this letter. I reason that if an account is in appeal surely they should have a pending status which delays all these letters I have still been receiving.
She replies “Our system doesn’t work like that, and unfortunately due to the cut backs we have so few people trying to do the same amount of work that mistakes happen”.
I am gobsmacked. HMRC are one of the most powerful government agency that exists – how scary to know that mistakes like this are expected to happen!