Double standards?

You’ve got to wonder about the workings of HMRC. Admissions that huge numbers of people have been incorrectly taxed, reports that statements regarding payments on account were not sent out on time because of lack of stationery plus rumours of low morale.

Last week I had my own personal moment when the straw that broke the camel’s back arrived. I am in charge of the firm’s corporation tax software and had struggled to get our systems compliant with the need to file accounts and corporation tax returns on-line with HMRC.

Our software suppliers had been placed under onerous and barely realistic timetables to implement their softwares in time. Thankfully our providers made it with a month or so to spare and we had tested the software ahead of the 1 April 2011 deadline. Other providers did not make it and the various Institute’s representing accountants wrote to the Government asking for a delay in the filing deadline. The Government were not prepared to play ball and the deadline stayed in place albeit with a light touch to errors and failures.

As happens every year the chancellor, George Osbourne, presented his budget on 23rd March 2011. In this he announced some welcome reductions in the rates of Corporation Tax. These changes are not enacted until the Finance Bill is passed which happened on 19 July 2011.

Our Corporation Tax Software provider had updated their software and released it around the time the rates became official. Excellent news I thought, we can now file the April 2011 and May 2011 computations which take advantage of the new rates.

No such luck! HMRC’s computer system will not be able to accept 2011 returns until sometime in October 2011, a full half year and more after they were announced.

There seems to be one set of deadlines for HMRC as far as computer upgrades are concerned and a totally different set for the man on the street!

To say I was and remain outraged is an understatement, the double standards at play are mindboggling.

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