Friday, 28 January 2011

Online Tax Return

Piggy Bank - Wikimedia Commons

Please, Mister Taxman,
Let me file my tax return
before the deadline.

For two weeks
my efforts to file online,
sadly, were thwarted.

The deadline is close;
stop the red pens, the warnings,
the shrieking sirens,

please, do not fine me,
accept my details as true;
I'm trying my best.

It's true, for two weeks I have been trying to file my online tax return; the deadline is 31st Jan. I'm an online tax virgin and was willing to accept that I might have made mistakes, but no more. It wasn't my calculations that were wrong, no, my personal details didn't please the tax gods. Do I know my name? Birthday ? Address ?  Reference Numbers ? Yes, I do! 

I have gone for online advice and was fobbed off with long, incomprehensible, pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all advice. I have spent long hours listening to tinned music (music? hardly) while waiting to speak to lovely chaps called Brian, Mark and Dennis to give individual advice. Even though two of them went through my return with me online, they ended up by scratching their heads (I could hear it) and sending me onwards and upwards.

I wish I had counted the actual number of times I attempted to solve the puzzle by myself, going step-by-step through the pages presented on my screen, only coming up against X - warning - three errors on page, or correct personal details,  or must be filled in. A crash scene, with blue lights flashing and sirens blaring and dozens of policemen would have been less frightening.

So, this morning, a day before the deadline, I drove to the Tax Office in the nearest town to look for help. The place was shut, the building up for sale. A big sign said Enquiries with Messrs. Scrappit & Floggit, Agents for the Big Society.

With wobbly lip and tears of frustration, after another long, very personal conversation with another lovely chap at the end of a helpline, I had another go. Dear Reader, you may not believe this, but doing exactly the same as before, giving exactly the same answers in exactly the same places, I got through to the end. 

Somebody, somewhere, relented, threw a little switch maybe, or more likely, realised that they got it wrong and that I DO know my personal details even if they don't.

I've hardly been around in the blogosphere for the last three days, now you know why.  Normal service will be resumed.

PS: for my English readers who may want to attempt to file a return online for the first time:

You are given an emergency Nat. Ins. number, which bears no resemblance to a normal one and may, or may not, be accepted in subsequent dealings with the Inland Revenue. Beware!


  1. Oh dear -- the computer grinches are at it again! So happy to hear you stuck with it and that you've not torn out all your hair.

  2. oh not looking forward to taxes all the more now...

  3. Glad to hear you finally got through! Phoning them is an absolute nightmare.

  4. Thanks for the reminder. We have until April 15th, but I better get working on the return now to have it filed on time. Nice haiku telling of your tax tale.


  5. Dreadful ordeal for you. My husband files our tax returns online, and does all kinds of fancy little things ("I'm declaring all the medical expenses this year, and you're declaring all the charitable contributions." Huh? Why?) which the Canadian government invented just to confuse me, I swear.
    So, while I'm very sorry this had to happen to you, because you didn't deserve it, I'm somewhat glad to see we are not alone. The British government does the same thing.
    "Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Thanks to Benjamin Franklin for these words of reassurance from US history.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  6. Wow. That sounds even scarier than U.S. tax day. I've found a site that remembers all my information from last year. The only painful part is writing the check.

  7. I feel for you, dear one, for computers
    can be rife with trolls and gremlins,
    and often we feel like victims, hanging
    over a rail with our arms flailing and
    just know we are going to pitch forward
    at any moment, free-falling into cyber
    oblivion. We pay accountants to do our
    taxes, putting an intermediary between
    us and the government gouls who drain
    our life's blood and savings. Reminds me
    of every major computer project I ever
    attempted; always goes sideways, ejecting
    me into near madness. When I retired last
    July, I had to "redo" my online apps for
    Social Security, and the Department of
    Veteran's affairs, and the agency I had
    put my investments in for retirement;
    all required half dozen redeuxs, numerous
    waits on the phone in order to talk with
    someone thousands of miles away, who
    would tell me anything to get me off the
    phone. Dealing with technology should
    be more joyous, but lol.

  8. That's your government tax dollars at work!

  9. I'm sorry you had to go through this frustrating ordeal. I have had identical problems with other forms and I never got any help from a live person.

    I finally quit using one company because of the aggravation in filling out their forms only to have the computer hang up when I tried to submit it. Bah !! Humbug !!!

  10. It's the lack of a face to talk to that I can't cope with . And the fruitless repetitions ... on both sides !

  11. Reading this was a revalation. I knew there had to be a good thing about being old and poor---no taxes. Aaahh.

  12. Huge roll of red tape unravelled around you ! Funny Topic for a haiku ! Glad you have escaped now !

  13. Okay, this is hilarious. I'n sorry for the run around you endured but I sure enjoyed reading about it!

  14. Sometimes I wish indeed that life would be easy again, as it was with pencil and paper ... over here we do give all needed to an accountant, even though I am one as well, in order to make all the work.
    As dealing with public authorities online is still 'new land' over here, to say the least, there are long, long rows of people standing and waiting once time arrives for declaring tax. Said that Greece looses many million Euro yearly due to false declerations.

    Crossing all available finger for your return. Please have a good weekend.

    daily athens

    p.s.: the writing is about half / half mine. thank you for your kind words.

  15. Ugh.. how frustrating. I would be tearing my hair out.. or maybe the computer. I'm glad you got it all resolved.

  16. There might have some curse words involved if this was me.
    I know that our Mac makes some of these things wonky, my kids first noticed it when trying to apply for employment online.
    But as you say, it's the whole long drawn out frustrating process of repetition and being passed around etc.

    Perhaps you'll at least receive a large enough sum as return for your troubles:)

    ( and I've been a bit of a blogger slacker this week, various appts and well, life stuff )

  17. Du kannst aus den alltäglichsten Dinge eine wunderbare Sache machen. Ich lese Deine Posts immer sehr gerne. Sie sind einfach zu geniessen!
    Ich denke, dass es nicht aussergewöhnlich ist, was Dir passiert ist. Ich glaube, das System war einfach überlastet, da sehr viele Leute sicher die gleiche Idee, wie Du hatten. Mitten in der Nacht hätte es sicher geklappt! :-)
    Dir ganz liebe Grüsse, einen schönen Tag und bis bald!

  18. Sounds like a very taxing problem. I wish you well.

    All the best, Boonie

  19. This is why I love paper and pens and tick boxes.

  20. In my husband's last job, where he gave a way money (really), the database he was required to use was such a mess and such a hellacious experience that after a year of each day going through the hoops your described above...he retired.

  21. I smell a conspiracy. Funded by a drug company.

  22. Thank you, Friko. I was just thinking last night that I should pull up my big-girl panties and do my own income taxes this year.
    After reading your post, I'm gathering my stuff to send to my accountant. Some things are worth the money.

  23. how very vexing! so glad it finally worked out.

  24. you are the first to haiku such a taxing vile experience and i commend you.
    perhaps our governments could be inspired by haiku...and simplify the entire process!

    (in a perfect world)

    thanks for being glad the tax nightmare is behind you.

  25. friko - oh dear! i've stuck with paper returns because i have a sense that trivial errors - possibly not my own - will circumvent the natural unfolding of the process! proof lies right here on this page that it happens. relentlessly!! steven

  26. I can so identify with your frustration - I did my taxes on line once - the following year it had some of my info but did not accept any of the changes I wanted to make - after much frustration off I went to the accountant - sometimes it is worth spending a bit of money to keep us sane. Looking at it from the bright side - all these experiences provide you with fodder to keep your readers amused. Take care.

  27. Oh dear! Now you know why I retired from the Inland Revenue when I did! LOL

  28. You should have included your haiku in the 'any other information' box at the end.

  29. Sorry for your difficulties

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral


  30. I have to say that I'm glad the U.S. tax filing deadline is 15 April--and with an extension (which I always take), I have until 15 October!

    Two Maidens Dancing

  31. Well done for sticking at it through all the phone calls and error messages. I could never do my tax returns online (it doesn't work for clergy) - but the Other Half manages his OK. Hope it is better next year. Hope you enjoy the sheer relief and sense of satisfaction.

  32. Oh Friko - sounded like a nightmare. glad you manage to sort it in the end.

  33. Thank goodness you finally got through the whole war zone! I feel so sorry for you tearing your hair, rending your clothing, gnashing your teeth... At least in the interim you did . . . occasionally . . . get to talk to humans. Even though they weren't much help.
    Will you do it again next year, d'you think?

  34. Blipfillypickepoo29 January 2011 at 23:29

    Friko ~ What a timely and funny (at least from my perspective) post. I live in the U.S. and spent most of the afternoon today completing my federal tax return online. I have done so before, but your post gave me chills at the prospect of things not going as planned. I will make sure to start attempting to file online as soon as possible so that if/when I run into problems, I have months, not hours, to solve them.
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog. You are welcome back any time. With regard to the dog advice.... I have a beagle who sheds more than any other 10 dogs I have ever met. It is impossible to keep up with the hair. It's a good thing she is very sweet natured and good company.
    I'm going to have a longer look around your blog now.

  35. Friko, our tax-filing deadly over here in the States is April 15, the other side of April Fool's day.

    I generally fill out my tax forms with pencil on "hard copy" paper. No audits yet.

    This year, lots of the financial info required for tax filing seems to only be available on line. This seems somehow to be not right. No one voted for this.

    Perhaps my comment is influenced by watching tv coverage from Cairo and Alexandria this afternoon.

    Let me lighted up, and tell you how much I have enjoyed finally reading all your recent posts. I was way behind in finding out what you've been up to, but feel that your writing deserves more than a scan of a reading. xo

  36. I thought that it was difficult to take care of taxes in the US and I see that it is the same where you live. If governments want taxes to be paid I wonder why they make it so hard for us to do so.

  37. I feel for you. Why does there have to be so much red tape?!!

  38. Dear Friko,
    the mass of comments above shows that you have hit a nerve! I am glad that our accountant does our tax form - but weeks before I see Husband muttering and sorting - and when I ask: why are you doing it, we pay the accountant! he shows me that I am naive.
    In Germany you can fill in your form by computer too - the programme is called "Magpie" - that shows: they can be humorous, too, the fiscal authorities...


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