This week’s blogs: on her majesty’s service

If HMRC seriously want to keep on top of website problems they could monitor
Twitter to note the references to ‘HMRC, ‘taxman’, ‘Inland Revenue’, ‘file my
tax return’, ‘tax office’, ‘pay my tax’ and the like. It’s not particularly

Although I doubt HMRC would be thanked if they started to ‘follow’ anyone on
Twitter. ‘HMRC is now following you’ is not something anyone would want to hear.

In 2008/09, as in previous years, HMRC was reliant on professional bodies
like the ICAEW tax faculty and CIoT to pass on details of problems as and when
these were reported by members. This is a much longer-winded process than it
needs to be.

I suggest someone in HMRC should explore this new phenomenon and how it could
be used to identify and resolve website issues faster than has been possible in
the past. Monitoring tax related tweets will also provide an insight into how
real people relate to the taxman.

Mark Lee, chairman of the Tax Advice Network

Back in the recession of the early 90s, insolvencies peaked in 1992 when they
were running at over 6,000 a quarter. So, despite the serious slowdown in the
economy in the last few months of 2008, the figures are bad, but not as bad as
they could have been. Mind you, there is always a time lag in these stats, and
insolvency numbers continue to rise even when we’re coming out of a recession.
First quarter stats this year will be interesting to see. I predict that with
loans still difficult to obtain by SME companies, figures could well rise to
over 5,000 this quarter.

Martin Williams, MD, Graydon

In a recent press release setting out the new rates HMRC were careful to
ensure regulations that lay down the procedures and formulas for calculating
interest on overdue tax and overpaid tax, were amended in December 2008 ‘to
clarify that interest rates calculated under the regulations cannot fall below

It is frightening to think the parliamentary draughtsman could have drawn up
regulations that could result in negative rates but their statement is a clear
indication this was about to happen.

There is something quite bizarre about HMRC having to make changes to
reassure us that they will not charge us for the benefit of them having the use
of our money.

If any further evidence was needed that our tax legislation is out of control
then this is it!

Carol Barrie, tax partner at RSM Bentley Jennison in

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