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Feedback: 9 September 2021

07 September 2021
Issue: 4807 / Categories: Forum & Feedback

Readers discuss problems dealing with HMRC and mirror wills.

Is HMRC ‘broken’?

I am moved to contact you in sheer frustration with HMRC. Surely I cannot be the only person on this side of the fence at their wits’ end.

I run the compliance side of a small practice in Herefordshire and I consider myself to be at the ‘coalface’. I cannot get HMRC to deal with anything that is not digitised and even electronic processes are shaky.

I am not an ‘HMRC basher’. I worked for HMRC for ten years. I know the system is not perfect, but most officers are onside. I’ve had a lot of dealings with individuals from HMRC since I jumped ship and, apart from the odd one on a crusade, they’ve been very helpful.

My current beef is that any process that cannot be handled electronically does not appear to be happening. I have attempted to set up new partnerships and the paperwork disappears into an abyss.

I have requested new partnership registrations in April and have heard nothing. I cannot get through on the telephone in a normal working day, so I telephone at 8am to be told that the request is logged but nothing has happened to it. They will call me back in four weeks.

Corporation tax is as bad: woe betide anyone wanting a refund. Despite being entered on the corporation tax return, I have to chase it. I cannot get through at any time other than between 8am and 8.30am and then I am fobbed off. I have never yet been able to use the ‘chat to an adviser online’ because ‘all of our advisers are busy’.

A client cannot access their postponed VAT account for imports, because the system does not recognise the UTR. He has spent hours on the phone and the various officers, when he eventually connects, cannot resolve it. His postponed VAT account is destined to be forever out of reach. It is he who suggested that HMRC is ‘broken’.

I have requested a VAT registration online for a farming partnership. It is entirely unremarkable and we have had a letter saying ‘HMRC cannot make changes to the VAT account’.

Basic PAYE Tools is a great piece of software until it isn’t. I have seen that it gets corrupted at HMRC’s end. We know what we are submitting, but HMRC is receiving that month and the previous months for two out of four employees, so the information is duplicated. HMRC either cannot or will not resolve it from its end. We have tried different software and it is still happening. HMRC has put a stop on issuing demands, but it’s unsatisfactory. Clients want a once and for all resolution, not a woolly ‘Don’t worry, we won’t try to collect it’.

Increasingly, contact with HMRC is as soul destroying as trying to push water uphill. It’s not too much to ask that the processes just work. I spend a large proportion of my time fighting with issues that don’t.

I do wonder if working from home, while productive for complex issues, is counterproductive and disjointed for compliance processes.

I am not an enthusiastic complainer. I prefer to vote with my feet. Sadly, that is not an option with HMRC. I fear for the introduction of more innovations. Please get the existing structure to work first.

Sara Morris.

Mirror wills

I read the answers to the Readers’ forum query ‘Do parents’ mirror wills need revising?’ (5 August 2021, page 23) with interest.

Percy Lion is correct to caution about the possibility of a child suffering divorce or bankruptcy. There is also the possibility of the child predeceasing their parents and the possibility of capital gains tax issues if the property was not the child’s principal place of residence.

We are not specifically told if the business qualifies for business property relief or how large the estate is although I assume it could be substantial. Readers should be aware of the Care and Support Charges and Assessment of Resources Regulations 2014 under which any person who has assets above £23,250 will be self-funding and not entitled to local authority support. The regulations are mandatory.

It is also worth bearing in mind that if the unfortunate position is reached when a person has to go into care and the estate is over £2m, payment of the fees might have the effect of reducing the size of the estate and possibly bring it down below the £2m ceiling so the maximum residential nil rate band will become available and in the case of any taxable estate might mean that the care fees paid effectively gain a 40% discount because the amount of inheritance tax payable will be reduced.

Paul Masters.

Issue: 4807 / Categories: Forum & Feedback
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