Daily Archives: December 21, 2008

Online Again

We are back online again after the site banned my own IP address from posting for two days! Finally comments are freed up; another bug in the system was giving people a message purporting to come from me, saying rather rudely that I would decide whether to approve comments “at my own convenience”, and that there was no need to follow up to find what had happened to your comment. It then dumped the comments somewhere into the ether.

Hopefully these problems are behind us.

I have received a very curt letter from the Inland Revenue saying that, unless they receive my tax return for 2006/7 by tomorrow, they will start to charge me £60 per day fine. I would love to give them my tax return, but self-assessment returns are now only accepted online. But when I give them my Government gateway number, my Unique Tax Reference number, and my National Insurance number, the system still refuses to accept my existence.

This has been going on ever since I left the FCO. But in previous tax years you had the alternative of filling in a paper form, so I just did that. This option has been withdrawn.

I have called the Inland Revenue helpdesk on many occasions about this over the last four years, and they have told me that it is because I used to work for the FCO. Certain members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are blocked from online returns for security reasons (I cannot begin to imagine what). I point out it is four years now since I worked for them, but nothing happens.

In the meantime my tax for 2006/7 has been “assessed” – ie guessed – and I have paid the assessment in full. It is no secret that I am now a strugglling writer with, frankly, very little income. I am quite astonished at the effort they put into harassing me, especially when their system won’t let me in to complete the form.

The taxable income I am trying to declare is about £32,000 – which means I will actually be due some money back from the assessed payment. I cannot help but contrast my treatment to that of David Mills, dodgy accountant husband of New Labour Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, who for over four years did not declare income from Silvio Berlusconi, and from sources representing Italian gangsters, totalling over £1.5 million. That is fifty times my income in question, he was four times later with his returns than I, and unlike me he had not advance paid an assessment. Nor as far as I am aware was he physically blocked from filing.

Yet not only was Mills not fined £60 a day on his outstanding returns, he was allowed to reach a “negotiated settlement” of his tax whereby he paid £220,000 less than the amount due on the face of it. The justification of this was that the Inland Revenue would face legal costs if it went to court for the money.

Talk about one law for the rich….

Interesting fact – Her Majesty’s Adjudicator for Customs and Revenue is Dame Barbara Mills, David Mills’ sister-in-law. She did not hold that position when his deal with the revenue was reached, but she was Director of Public Prosecutions when the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop a case against him for money-laundering.

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