Online Again 10

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 This option has been withdrawn.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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10 thoughts on “Online Again

  • Tom Welsh

    "I am quite astonished at the effort they put into harassing me".

    I am not. Never underestimate the petty vindictiveness of an offended politician.

    They do it because they can.

  • Mark Wood

    I too had that reply to posting on your site; it was only my second post that was in response to an answer to my first. It upset me so much I stopped coming here for a while, I started to wonder if you was really some kind of fifth columnist due to the nature of what I thought was your censorship.

    The only good thing about this situation is that we get wiser all the time and it makes it harder for the powers that be to pull off this kind of scam with negative results to your image, in fact it is actually counter-productive against there own motives. It also makes us all stronger and more determined to fight the good fight than ever.

    Before I was just interest in what you had to say, now I am a mad as hell due to the personal nature of these actions, this must be true of everyone that has been subjected to these attacks and also shows others the true nature of the un-great game being played.

  • Polo

    Surely there is a civil rights issue raised by a refusal by the Revenue to accept a hardcopy return.

    You will have to start a campaign for the restoration of "habeas papyrus"!

  • David W. Carraher

    Your tribulations since leaving government service leave me with mixed emotions. I am grateful to learn how the policies of our governments are interwoven with personal and class interests. But I shudder to realize that the technologies that make such a spread of ideas possible are currently under siege.

  • Watching Them, Watch

    Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs claim to have no clue about who originally instituted the unfair policy of having "special category" tax returns, which are identifiable as such, with a different tax code. There is no good technical reason why these cannot be handled securely online.

    They are trying to keep even the broad general categories of the types of people whose tax returns are treated specially completely secret.

    How anybody who is genuinely at risk e.g. victims of stalkers etc. can tell if they are being specially protected properly by HMRC or not, is a mystery, given the needless, and possibly counterproductive secrecy.

    It is inexcusable for HMRC to treat my tax return any more or less securely than yours.

    By making such "special category" tax returns stand out from the vast majority, they actually reduce their security, by making it far more likely that a curious or corrupt insider will take a peek at them, in the hope of finding some juicy and possibly lucrative details.

    Follow the ongoing Spy Blog UK FOIA request / review / complaint etc. again which has taken nearly a year so far:

    HMRC tax record special categories

  • ruth

    The harassment by the secret services takes all shapes and forms. I know somebody whose case is so sensitive to the government that almost for ten years he has been subjected to all sorts of intimidation. His home has been 'burgled' many times. A few months ago both his flats miles apart were broken into at the same time. He was nearly run down, he constantly gets phone calls with strange sounds, his internet connection gets cut at sensitive times for no reason and so on.

  • Charles Crawford

    I had the same problem with online tax registration for a short while on leaving the FCO. They need to transfer you to a different tax office or somesuch.

    I forget the precise procedure, but I did it as instructed and now the online service quickly worked OK.

    Get in touch with FCO Pay Section who should be able to sort it, which is what I think I did.

  • oulwan

    Petty vindictiveness … Or a concerted campaign of harrassment to break your determination to speak out. The more jurisdictions and sites that can be involved, the better. The internet, so far, can't be controlled. Despite the Pentagon's best efforts.

  • amk

    I started to wonder if you was really some kind of fifth columnist due to the nature of what I thought was your censorship.

    As demonstrated above, the purpose of this kind of comment filtering is to block spambots. There are better methods though. Perhaps a captcha?

Comments are closed.