Thursday, 6 December 2007

Inland Revenue

Yesterday I received a dreaded brown envelope from the Inland Revenue... oops I mean HM Revenue and Customs as they go by these days. In my experience letters of this nature have never been good.

In the past it has always been a case of miscalculation of my income tax contributions - which date back to several years previously, but will now be collected by adjustment of my personal allowance. I would dearly love to be able to explain all this mumbo-jumbo for overseas readers... however, I have never really understood it myself. I always spend hours poring over the booklets and then end up asking Rich or one of my colleagues to explain it anyway! It's always worth checking though. The time before yesterday when they were adjusting a previous miscalculation it was the same miscalculation that they had recouped the previous year. Personally I think that if more than a year has passed before they get around to checking these things it should all be water under the bridge!

Anyway. Back to yesterdays missive. It wasn't Income Tax on their minds this time but National Insurance contributions. According to them for the year 2005-06 (yes, that's right, nearly two years ago) my contributions fell short to have it considered as a 'qualifying year' by... wait for it... 52 weeks. No build up (which always arrives with such tax letters) just a note that I needed to pay them £382 by... wait for it... 2012. I couldn't even be bothered to begin to understand this, so I just called the telephone number with my P60 for that year ready to hand (oh, I am so organised).

After giving all the details they could think of to ask for to verify that I am in fact me we got down to business. How could I owe 52 weeks I asked, that is an entire year? Was I in full time employment that year, they asked? Can't they tell, having presumably looked me up on some computer! Yes, I confirmed. Oh... they said, they were still in the process of updating their accounts for that year (yes, nearly two years ago) so the letter had been automatically generated. They would contact me again when they had finished updating their accounts. All well and good. Although, what if I had been an older person... what if I had been about to retire... what if the letter told me I only had 29 of the 30 years of qualifying years that I need to claim my state pension. Would I have rushed out the next day and paid the money, trusting that a Government department must know what they are doing. Maybe? Although after some recent news stories concerning various government departments, maybe not.