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Inland Revenue: Carrier Pigeons Faster


Recently I needed the Inland Revenue to send me some information.

I visited the Taxman's web site. It had over 800,000 pages, none of which told me my local tax office.

I looked through an alphabetical list of bureaucrat havens, and guessed which three were most likely to be my local tax office, and called them each, repeatedly, for days.

Whilst there are 100,000 bureaucrats, few seem to have mastered answering the phone. After three days of engaged tones, I finally got through to my local office. Or so I thought.

"Your local office is Chappel Wharf", I was told by the London office.
"Your local office is London", I was told by Chappel Wharf.
"Oh no it's not, try Chappel Wharf", said the London office (which is actually in Cardiff).
"No, really, contact London", said Chappel Wharf.

A helpful bureaucrat offered to have my record transferred to his office. Transferring the electronic ownership of the record would take two seconds.

Sorry, I mean two DAYS.

And sending out a letter to me would take another week.

A week and a half later, I called to enquire why I had yet to receive anything. They told me the reason: It takes The Inland Revenue THREE WEEKS to electronically transfer ownership of a tax record between its offices.

...if you're lucky. It could take longer. And during this time, nobody anywhere can modify your record.

When my record was finally transferred, the Inland Revenue told me they hadn't a clue who I work for, despite the fact that my employer had been paying them thousands of pounds in taxes on my behalf, for years.

In the interests of efficiency, I'm tempted to write to the Inland Revenue, suggesting that it speed up electronic record transfers by hand-copying the tax records on to rolls of parchment, dispatching them by carrier pigeon, and getting monkeys to type up the scrolls at the other end. It would be faster, more accurate, and quite possibly cheaper than the current electronic system...

(Pigeon Image copyright Ed Crowle, Some rights reserved. Yes, I know it's not a CARRIER pigeon.)

Update 11 Dec 2005: Figures released under the freedom of information act show that 1 in 3 calls to government goes unanswered. The Inland Revenue Indolent Revenue is one of the worse offenders. Just one of the worst offenders.

November 14, 2005 in Government Incompetence | Permalink


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