Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame once wrote these immortal words:
Anyone who is capable of getting themselves elected to government should on no account be allowed to do the job.
Generally I agree wholeheartedly but I think the phrase can be adapted to cover many professions. For example:
Anyone capable of understanding the tax system should, on no account, be allowed to work in HMRC.
And, I’m delighted to say, HMRC seems to be following this guideline. I’ve certainly not come across anyone who actually understands anything about anything as I’ve been calling them this week.
Let me explain more.
We do some work in Ireland and the company we’re contracted to has secured government funding for part of the work we are doing. The upshot of this is that we have to invoice the government department directly for a proportion of the contract fee.
We did this earlier in the year and got paid with no problems whatsoever.
This time round, though, we’ve been asked for something called a Tax Completion Certificate.
Errr… a what? A Tax Completion Certificate.
Anyone ever heard of one of those?
Nope, neither had HMRC.
So I went to the Irish equivalent, Revenue Inspectors. A Tax Completion Certificate is common in Ireland and every company that does business with the government has to have one of these things to prove they are up to date with their taxes.
Okay, back to HMRC to ask for one.
Call One: we don’t deal with that here… call this number.
Call Two: ditto.
Call Three: Errr… yes, um, um… I’ll call you back.
To be fair, the lady in question did call back and explained that the relevant certificate is called a Compliance Certificate. It’s only just become an issue so a new department has been set up to produce these things because information has to be gathered about corporation tax, VAT and errr… other things.
‘Oh, you know… things.’
The next steps, then, are to write a letter to a new department in HMRC to ask for a Compliance Certificate and explain why I needed it… (to get paid, obviously!)
‘Okay, I’ll do that,’ says I. ‘How long will it take to get the certificate?’
‘Oh, ah… now, the thing is, it’s a new department so we can’t tell you how long it’s going to take.’
‘Right, so what’s your name?’
‘Ah, now, we don’t give our names out! Why do you want it?’
‘It’s for when, in a month’s time I haven’t seen hide nor hair of my certificate, I know who I talked to and can come straight back to you!’
Oh, me of little faith.