Book Reviewer
Despite having left the UK nearly 3 years ago, I still haven;t been able to fully throw off the yoke of the HMRC. I was an employee of a UK company for my first 12 months, after this I became a full-time Canadian employee.

Despite not having earned any UK taxable income since July 2006, and having paid tax here in Canada (at a slightly higher rate than the UK), I am still on the mailing list of the blood-from-stones-brigade and receive an annual request for a tax return form to be submitted.

As a non-UK resident employed outside the UK by a non-UK company my tax UK affairs are confined to a single bank account. For the 07-08 tax year, in support of this bank account, my UK tax return ran to 20+ pages and several supplementary forms which resulted in a demand for nearly 5000GBP - when I contacted the HMRC to discuss this matter, I was informed that I'd filled in the wrong form (that they'd supplied to me) and that I'd have to resubmit my return with the amended information and a supplementary form that they subsequently supplied - on receiving the paperwork, I reviewed their own guides, discovered that the supplementary form (which I hadn't originally supplied and for which I'd been bollocked) wasn't actually required according to their own rules. A covering letter was written and the paperwork returned and my tax demand of 5000 GBP became a refund of 250GBP. Total time elapsed 8 months and 4 trans-Atlantic crossings for the forms.

Despite my tax return form containing details of a UK bank account, guess what? That's right, I had to request HMRC to make the payment - I think they wanted to hold onto it, just in case I had a tax liability in future years.

So, as we approach the end of the current tax year I already know that another demand for me to complete a UK tax return is winging its was through Royal Mail and Canada Post. I queried why I'm still getting these requests and was told that I hadn't completed the necessary form (P85 I think) - that's funny, one was sent in September 2006 and surprise, surprise, the HMRC have got a record of this on their system. Still, now they've found it on my records, maybe they'll actually do something with it sometime over the next decade!

I can also rest easy in the knowledge that when the tax return request gets to me it will have lots of encouragement to complete my tax return on-line coupled with dire warning that dead-tree tax returns are put to the back of the queue. Its a great pity that on-line filing doesn't recognise the non-resident forms isn't it! One day, the HMRC may actually practise some of the joined-up thinking we were promised back in 1997. What was the tag-line of the HMRC advert of a few years back: "Tax.... doesn't have to be taxing" Grrrrrrr!!!!

Next week, I'll take my Canadian tax papers into a local tax agent, sit down with him complete everything and walk out with my tax refund no more than an hour later. That's how a tax system should work, and please not that includes both federal and provincial tax codes; the UK tax system must surely have reached the point where any further increase in complexity will cost more to collect than it actually brings in - this is one area of the public economy that is just too large and cumbersome and should be cut down to size!

The UK Tax Code: more secure than high-grade crypto as its never yet been cracked - crypto's inherent weakness being that it has a key!

Off now for a lie-down in a darkened room and to take my medications :)
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