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I’m not optimistic about a quick resolution to this one

I’m not optimistic about a quick resolution to this one

You know when you’ve been commuting too long when, without having to think about, you stand on the platform, the train rolls in and you only have to stretch out your hand to open the door. The good thing is that you can get to work with minimal mental effort which, at the time of day I’m usually doing it, is rather a good thing.

In fact there’s only one thing that is really getting on my wick during the daily commute. A regular army of lycra-clad cyclepaths with silly hats who seem to think any rules of the road, the pavement and basic courtesy simply don’t apply.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to dodge them in the car coming off pavements or through red lights. Today I had to crash stop because one of them sailed across a zebra crossing; even the dumbest pedestrian has twigged that stopping and looking before stepping off the kerb is a good idea, so why are cyclists immune? Not to mention they aren’t damned pedestrians anyway and cycling across a zebra is actually illegal.

Then once off the train (having first waited for them to negotiate their idiot machines thought the barriers) and on the daily walk across the city centre I routinely get confronted by them ploughing through a busy walkway, heads down, mindless expression behind the obligatory dark glasses, utterly indifferent to any thought of risk analysis. Can’t slow down, got to get there, mustn’t stop, can’t possibly communicate with mere mortals, don’t care about anyone else; I’m a road warrior, me…

Remind you of anyone?

I paid my Corporation Tax bill last month, well ahead of the due date. Thanks to the vagaries of the banking system I couldn’t do it in one transaction (what, you think I’m going to pay extra to send Hector money?) so I sent two BACs transactions to occur one day apart. Same reference number, same destination bank account, accurate to the penny.

I got an acknowledgement for the first one. But not the second. Oh oh…

Then I get a letter. I have an outstanding payment on my Corporation Tax account. You now owe us the balance plus another lump of interest. The accountant has written to them pointing out their error, and enclosing a copy of MyCo’s bank statement clearly showing the payment.

No response. Hector doesn’t do letters, apparently.

So they phoned them up. All that achieves is to elicit a promise to send an internal email to the payments team. Say what? We don’t want payments, we want to you understand that no money is owed so payments have nothing to do with it.

Still no answer.

Next step is to log into the account and see what they think I owe. Got to wait for some more paperwork for that of course, can’t possibly use the credentials I already have to pay my employee taxes and VAT. Or register online, has to be done by post. Well I suppose it keeps a few hundred envelope stuffers off the streets.

Then the accountant tells me that Hector won’t talk to them about my affairs anyway until I fill out a form (one I’ve already done once, by the way) to allow them to do so: notwithstanding the minor detail that the accountant has been dealing with my company’s affairs for around seven years now, as even a cursory glance at their own records would demonstrate.

So I’m not optimistic about a quick resolution to this one. Nor, come to that, the payment of the money (plus interest…) they owe me for overpaid income tax from last year which has also not appeared in MyCo’s bank account.

At least when confronted with a moron on a bike you get some satisfaction by thinking you might just send him on his way wearing it rather than riding it. Sadly, that doesn’t work for taxmen.

About the author: Alan Watts

Alan has worked in IT for most of the last 35 years, and first went freelance in 1996. He has been a PCG member from its start and has been spreading the message that freelancing is a professional career choice for many years. Alan also runs Malvolio’s Blog, a personal but highly informative take on the life of the modern freelance.

Alan Watts, Principal Consultant, LPW Computer Services

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited

Image: Hand shake by khalid Albaih

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