In the firing squad when the revolution comes

Archive for the category “Cynicism”

Exercise More, Feel Worse

The last few days have been somewhat sore.

As I’ve said before, I’ve been doing more walking with the new office location etc. Despite that (or, in my cynicism, because of it) on Saturday my back wrenched. Simply bending over to pick up a pen, and pop, gone. Ow, Ow, Fucking Ow.

It’s not as bad as it could’ve been – but is still bloody sore. Oddly, a decent walk seems to help loosen things, but the first bit of that walk hurts like fuck.

And things could be worse. I could have a cold/cough, that wracks the spine every time it happens.

Oh yes, I’ve got that too.  Thanks life, health, and general body stuff. You unutterable bastard.

Hopefully it’ll all wear off before too long. In the meantime, safe to say that I feel like shit.

In the meantime, this losing weight and getting healthy (or at least healthier) crap isn’t all it’s knocked up to be, I tell you.

Taxing The Tolerance

As regular readers probably vaguely recall, HMRC have never been an organisation I’m a great fan of.  I find it amazing that they can be quite as unhelpful, disorganised, obstructive and basically clown-like they really are.

Way back in the 2012-13 tax year – about the only year in my entire employment history where I worked fully PAYE for just one employer throughout the year – supposedly I underpaid my tax by just over £600. Yep, underpaid by £50 a month, all year – and somehow I am responsible for a fuckup that I have absolutely no influence or input on, so I have to repay that money. Even though the entire thing was between HMRC and my employer at the time, and I wouldn’t know one end of a tax calculation from the other.

It’s hardly going to ensure that either HMRC or the payroll department have to get things right, is it – if the only person penalised by those two sections fucking up is the person paying the tax, not the people who’ve actually screwed it up.

Anyway, the figures were disputed by me, and it’s been going on for two years now, with HMRC doing fuck-all. (Which seems to be what HMRC excels at)

I got a final demand for the money last month, with a deadline of this week. I’ve spoken to them in the meantime, but no, because of other figures and assumptions they’ve made, it was pay it all, or start having legal proceedings. Always fun.  And despite repeated requests, HMRC still haven’t given me any of the figures that have brought them to the conclusion that I’ve underpaid.  (Which also makes me think the entire thing is dodgy as shit, if they’re so unwilling to provide documentation)

Today I called them to make the payment, and spoke to someone vaguely competent. It still took an hour (and of course that’s at my expense, both in time, and cost of the call) but things are more promising now.  Bear with me, this might take some time…

The person in question looked into the entire thing.  Weirdly, despite having had the same employer all year, my record shows three – because the company in question went through restructures and fucking about. So they’ve screwed things up from that point. The screwup is still there, and still my fault – but at least I (sort of) understand where it’s come up. They’ve also promised to send me the calculations and explanations, although I’m not holding my breath on that score…

However.   Ah, the however.   It turns out that I also overpaid tax in tax year 2013-14 – something that HMRC have completely failed to tell me at all. It’s been a year, but nope, no information about overpaid tax, or anything. If only they were as good at telling you you’re due a refund as they are when you’ve under-paid.

Additionally, somewhere along the line – and bear in mind that HMRC now receive “RealTime Information” with every payroll run about my details, employer details, salary, and tax paid – HMRC have decided that my expected income for this tax year (2014-15) to be in the region of £150,000.  No-one can tell me where that figure has come from, or how it’s fallen into their system – because of course it’s updated every fucking week with the correct and up-to-date information – but there we go, a calculation that I’ll receive a salary nearly three times what’s expected.

All of which means that I now have only about £200 to repay (still not my fault, but sometimes the fight just isn’t worth it any more) because the overpayment from 2013/14 has balanced most of what was ‘underpaid’ in 2012/13.  So that should be all sorted now. I can pay that £200, and we’ll all be good.

Except – yep, another however/except…

Here we are, in February 2015.  Online payments have been around for a good decade. Payments by phone for a lot longer than that – probably what, 25 years now?

And HMRC don’t have any system for paying unpaid/outstanding PAYE payments online. Or by phone. Or by debit/credit card at all.  The ONLY ways that HMRC can take a payment for unpaid PAYE are – are you ready for this? – by cheque, postal orders, or banker’s draft.  (Or by taking it out of the tax payments for the forthcoming tax-year – which I didn’t want to do, for a number of reasons)  They can take payments online for other things, but not unpaid PAYE.  No-one can explain why – the best I got was “We’re looking into it, but the system isn’t ready yet”.  But with unpaid PAYE, we’re back int the 1970s.

My bank hasn’t issued cheque-books now for at least five years. The person I spoke to didn’t even realise you had to pay extra for postal orders or bankers drafts – so there’s no chance whatsoever that I can discount the costs from what I owe. Yup, yet again I’d be liable for the costs – and also if (as has happened to me before) HMRC ‘mislaid’ a payment.

So even though it’s the only option I didn’t want – and that’ll get complicated for other reasons – I’m going to end up paying that £200 over the tax year, rather than knowing I can start from scratch again.

In short, HMRC are useless cunts. But I suppose that won’t change any time soon.  Still, come the revolution…

Looking Back – 2014’s Jobs

I’ve been thinking a lot about the contrast between 2014 and 2015 (to date, of course) and realised that I couldn’t easily list the jobs/contracts I’d had last year.

2014 was a crap year for me in many ways, and the contracts and work I took on were definitely part of that. There were a couple of spectacularly bad choices – both contracts and permanent roles – and one of those didn’t even last a month. I stuck the other one for three months (balance, and all that) but yes, not good.

Looking back and doing the figures, I actually had eight roles in 2014. Bear in mind that three of them lasted three months each. Which means somewhere in there, there’s five jobs in three months.  (They’re spread out, it wasn’t just a three-month period of abysmality)  Oops.

With luck – and without tempting fate too much – 2015’s going to be a big improvement on all that. It’s started well, so let’s hope it can maintain that achievement through the year…


Change is Gonna Come

As per comments on the previous post about my asshole energy suppliers, I will definitely be looking at changing them this year.

However, because of the ongoing billing fuckups, right now I have no decent figures for comparison purposes. I’m sure I’m not getting a good deal from the cockwhistles at nPower, but I don’t actually know for sure how bad the deal is. I haven’t had a clear and accurate bill in nearly three years – which makes figuring anything else out into quite a struggle.

As always, I don’t see the point in changing anything until I know I’m getting a better deal – so for now I’ll be keeping things with nPower.

However, that’s only for the next couple of months, during which time I’ll be keeping an eye on actual usage and what I’m paying. Once I’ve had the next bill, and know more about the usage and expectations, I’ll be able to make a far better estimation of what I’m spending versus what I could/should be spending.

And from that point, I’ll then have to decide whether I’m going to stick with [current location] for at least another year’s tenancy. If I am, and there’s a good offer around, I’ll swap. Until then, it’s going to be about making sure I’ve got the figures to back up the decision one way or t’other…

Service Reward

As I said last week, the Slab passed its MOT with flying colours. So I decided to give it a treat – as well as the service it was due for, I sorted out a couple of things that’ve been annoying, and all is good.

Since I got it – and obviously before that too – one of the information displays has been pretty dodgy. It’s an old-type thing with a dot-matrix screen, and there were obviously some borked connections, so it never displayed the entire screen at all.  Depending on any number of random factors, it could be 75% working or 25%.  It didn’t affect the functionality of the car, but it got annoying on occasion.

Anyway, with having had to spend Not Much (actually, nigh-on Sod All) for the MOT, I asked about getting a replacement (or in this case, reconditioned) display module. I’d thought about it before, but didn’t bother at the time.

The service was done yesterday, along with the new display module, and replacement of various fluids that were OK-ish, but got flagged up as “could do with being replaced”. (Brake fluid and the like)

The display now is ace – indeed, it’s taking me some time to get used to it being as bright and clear as it is. The service had a couple of small bits that also needed doing, but it’s been worthwhile, and still Not Much for a car as comparatively old as the Slab.

Of course, with new bits and now it’s all sorted and taxed for the next year, something major is sure to go wrong with it in the coming month or so. That’s just the way these things go…

New Year, Same Shite

Well blimey, here we are in 2015. The thirteenth year for D4D™, which is quite a surprise.

There’s a lot of stuff going on, some new bits, new projects (and some continuations of existing projects) but there’ll also be a lot more of the same old shite here as well.

Happy New Year, and all that regular rot.

City Link

Sometimes it’s odd how things work out.  On Christmas Day, the courier group City Link announced they were going into administration. There’s still  lot of ongoing fallout, and unions wazzing on about how City Link are still a viable concern – because of course, who would know better than a fucking union?

Anyway, as I said, it’s odd how things work out.

A year or so ago, I interviewed with City Link to do a long-term contract in order to boost their website and on-line presence in a number of ways. It was a very cool job, and normally I’d have jumped at it. Indeed, I was offered it – but the downside was that it would’ve involved commuting round the worst section of the M25 on a daily basis – and that was what persuaded me to not take it.

Yes, sure, it would potentially have been a good year’s work and so on. But the revamped stuff hasn’t yet been released – and now looks like it never will be. So it would be pretty difficult, when now looking for something new on zero notice, to say “I did [x], but you can’t see it because they never released it”

All told, even with the way 2014 worked out on the shit-jobs front, I’m pretty glad I didn’t take on that one…

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