- Nov 23, 2011
1: People grumble about dealing with the HMRC but nowhere near as much as one of my family grumbled about working for the HMRC. A number of those complaints related to the HMRC forms...The HMRC** website Self Assessment software was rather odd in some respects.
For instance, if you were due a rebate (which I was at various times in the past), the software asked if you wanted to be paid by cheque or have it transferred to your bank account. (I wanted the former and told it so.) Fair enough, but the paper form didn't give one this option, and as the output of the website produced a pdf version of a form that was identical to the paper one, I wondered how it did this.
It did so by lying on my behalf.
There was a box under Question Q19B:If I had been filling in the paper form, I could not have ticked that box: I was reporting, elsewhere on the form, that I was receiving interest from a building society, which sort of depended on me having a building society account. (Okay, I could have closed the account in the meantime, but I was getting interest from it every year which, over time, rather gave the game away.) My only defence against an accusation that I had been incorrectly filling in the form (if I'd had to offer a defence), would have been that the HMRC software made me do it. (Would that have made it worse... because I was conspiring with the HMRC...?)
** - For those not in the know, HMRC = Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (so it's the UK's equivalent of IRS in the US).
2: Back in the day, before names changed, there was also the DHSS - Department of Health and Social Security. The complaining family member from (1) above, also grumbled about the DHSS swooping in and beating HRMC to the punch in picking up someone the HMRC wanted for non-payment. It turns out their few days of surveillance were far outmatched by the weeks the DHSS team had been on the case. (No idea what DHSS wanted with the target.)
3: A friend in the financial advice business always referred to the DHSS as the Department of Stealth and Total Obscurity.