As you no doubt know it’s tax return time in the UK.
Actually, that’s not quite true. Self Assessment Tax Returns are issued in April and they can be completed and filed any time until January 31st. It’s just that we leave tax returns to the last minute which means that January is always an interesting month for accountants.
Ah, the sympathy I feel emanating from you already… it’s a joy to feel the love.
I have an accountant friend who swore to me (or was that ‘at me’?) that he would never go through more than 20 tax return seasons. This year is his 25th! But this year he is adamant will be his last. When I asked why he said it was not because of his clients, whom I think, he genuinely likes, but because of HMRC.
Or, as he put it, HM Arsey.
He told me of a call he made to their ‘Helpline’ the other day. He was making this call to clarify a point with them about tax – strange that anyone should call a ‘helpline’ with a question – which, when answered would allow him to file a tax return and tell his client how much they need to pay.
And all he got, so he says, from the operative on the other end of the line was bad attitude. The twelve year old (his words, not mine) who answered the ‘phone made him feel like an idiot for ringing, wouldn’t (or couldn’t) answer his questions and gave him back chat at every turn.
Right up to the point when my friend said something like: ‘Listen, pal, you better mend your attitude because you work for me… remember that I pay your wages and I didn’t call to be spoken to like that.’
At which point the operative got all defensive and an argument ensued which ended up with satisfaction for no-one.
Now, I know that HM Arsey are under pressure to deal with the millions of tax returns, just like the accountants are. I also recognise they are under pressure for other reasons… like chasing the wrong people for money and making cosy deals with large corporates so they don’t pay all that they should.
But the only thing the HM Arsey person could possibly achieve is a further deterioration of the perception of his organisation. In other words he was simply going to give my mate the hump.
A little bit of guidance and performance management from… er… the management is needed.