Cheques are the new online banking

I was due to pay my company’s corporation tax before the end of March.  (HMRC choose to capitalise—in the non-financial sense of the word—the C and T.  I don’t like paying it, so give it no such respect.)  Anyway, suffice to say it’s a substantial sum, five figures in size.

I had my HMRC ID, and added the payee through my internet banking interface.  This was no mean feat, as the ridiculous number of facets of HMRC are so difficult to navigate.  (My VAT payee is “CUSTOMS AND EXCISE”, FFS.)  Anyway, I managed to find the appropriate payee for my corporation tax, and was ready to give them my company’s money, physically at least, even if emotionally I was far from being there.

I informed the interface that I wanted to transfer some money to HMRC, and it asked how much.  I then got an error, saying that it could not process single payments in excess of £10,000.

I called my business banking manager in an attempt to make the payment over the phone.  She informed me that they could not process single payments in excess of £10,000.  The consistency was beautiful, but the consistent message itself was shit.

The business banking manager told me that I could make the payment in a branch.  So I popped in.  And indeed I could.  The only way to transfer more than £10,000 in a single day to HMRC (or indeed any other organisation) was via a BACS payment.  Cost to me: £30.  Now I like paying tax as much as the next man, but I will not pay for the privilege of giving HMRC swathes of cash.

So I wrote a cheque, popped it in the post and a few days later, my account balance got the shit kicked out of it through the cashing of that one cheque.

The cost borne by HMRC in processing that payment was doubtless much greater than it would have been had I paid it electronically.  But the cost differential for me was too great for me to choose the electronic medium.

After April 2011, HMRC will not accept cheque payments.  My bank has not heard of this issue before (bullshit) and is investigating how it might address it.  I am not holding my breath.  Next year, I might just walk into 100 Parliament Street with some brown envelopes.


3 Responses to “Cheques are the new online banking”

  1. Steph Gray on April 4th, 2010 23:57

    I think this one could be filed in the annals of e-government under “some way to go yet”.

    I don’t understand why the paying bit is so hard – Shipley or Cumbernauld anyone? Well, I guess I do: it’s because the challenge is to consider and take responsibility for the whole customer experience, not just the assessment transaction. Who’s doing that, these days?

  2. Dan on April 6th, 2010 00:34

    This is not an HMRC issue, Steph. It’s a bank issue.

  3. Steph Gray on April 6th, 2010 00:38

    Quite right, and I should have been clear.

    But if the system taken as a whole isn’t working next year, who loses?

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