Tax Office Misinformation
Having made some efforts last year to keep my tax liability down, I submitted my tax return (online) on May 6th. And recollecting last year, when nothing happened after submitting it until I returned to the system and asked for a rebate, this time I tried to ask for it straight away.
At first, it told me there was no rebate. OK, I guess it wasn’t yet in the relevant part of the system, a theory supported by its absence from the historical list of my tax returns. So I asked about it using their “ask us a question” form, which promises a reply within 48 hours.
After a couple of returns to the HMRC site, it appeared in the historical list earlier this week, and was also showing a refund had been sent on May 6th (the day I submitted). Great! So it’ll be in the bank account sometime this week, right?
Nope, no sign of it, nor any reply to my message a full week after the 48 hours. So today I tried phoning them. Was rather hoarse with a mild lurgy, but wanted to find out what was going on, and dreading what might happen if they insisted they’d paid it – as stated – on May 6th.
After spending a long time going through a menu of options with a long pause at each option, I eventually spoke to a lady. A barrage of security questions later – anyone listening in is now fully equipped to impersonate me – and she looked up my details. Apparently it’s been selected for some kind of security investigation, whatever that may mean. OK, kind-of nice to hear some kind of checks exist (at least for those of us who are neither bankers nor MPs), but I can’t see how they’d check up on most of it without asking me, which they haven’t done.
But this is where it starts to feel Kafkaesque. Could she give me any kind of ballpark figure for how long I can expect to wait? Nope, she stonewalled with a most infuriatingly meaningless when it’s issued. I tried different units – days? weeks? months? Within your or my lifetime? – but she was absolutely not going to be any more specific. And when confronted with why the website had told me wrongly that the rebate had been sent, and why they never replied to my message, she pleaded ignorance. OK that last one is credible, but infuriating when you’re talking to what is supposed to be the contact for it.
I did just get one piece of information from her: a (postal) address for complaints. That came only after I’d assured her my complaint wasn’t about her personally, and that I wasn’t going to ask her name.
OK, I can take the delay: it’s annoying, but that’s life. But I really do get seriously pissed off at the misinformation and stonewalling. The bloody system shouldn’t tell me it’s been paid when it hasn’t, and they should answer questions within the promised 48 hours.