I just had a fight with someone at the tax office over ongoing tax trouble that I’ve had since I made the mistake of working on contract during 2006. Ever since then, the government has considered me self-employed, and sent me penality notices for not filing self-employment tax returns (something nice about the UK is that most people don’t actually need to file tax returns unless you’re trying to get money back – it’s calculated, your employer pays the tax, and you don’t have to go through the hassle of a return). So, after one year where I paid a king’s ransom for an accounting firm to straighten it all out, and one year where I filed a self-employment tax return that was all zeros, and hundreds of calls and letters afterwards, I’m still in the same situation. I’m not even sure what years the penalties are referring to.
So today, I take the latest penalty notice in hand, and at lunch I try to straighten it out yet again. The extremely snide woman (I don’t know if she started out that snotty, or if she just got more so the longer I talked to her) said that the government has the right to ask anyone to file a tax return for any reason. Fair enough…but how do I know in advance that they are going to require one so I don’t incur penalties?
“I suggest you file a tax return every single year.”
“Whether I need to or not? You mean, in direct contrast to EVERYONE ELSE I KNOW IN THE UK, NONE OF WHOM HAVE TO FILE TAX RETURNS?!?”
“Yes. I would suggest that you file a tax return.”
“Because I’m on some kind of a list. Is that what you mean? Am I being persecuted for being an American? Because no one else, as far as I can tell, has to file.”
“Certainly not. We can require ANYONE to file tax returns. It is our RIGHT.”
“Fine…then forever, for the rest of my life, I’ll file tax returns BECAUSE I’M ON A LIST.”
I was almost crying when I got off the phone. I’d accused her of persecuting me because I was American. I said other mean things. I could hear her typing while we talked, which was probably a note on the system that said:
KEEP THIS BITCH ON THE SHIT LIST FOREVER!!!