This part is specifically about the HMRC I am afraid. Of all of the debtors, of which there were several, none were so aggressive and oppressive as Her Majesty’s finest. I could control all of the other debtors, and we will cover this in later chapters with the methods I went to, and how it panned out. But this lot…oh what a real eye opener.
Let me be honest up front, every advice on the web about owing them money states do ANYTHING you can to pay them back as they will hound you in every way possible. And boy do they. Let’s set the picture though about how bad it got, and continues to do so.
The way the HMRC work is they are not one entity, so if you owe more than one department you deal with them separately. So, I was late with VAT and Corporation Tax. I found this out when I phoned and was put on a payment plan for the VAT, payable over 3 months. Result, not an issue. Phoned Corporation Tax department, NO! That must be paid in one go or the payment plan must be for that bill only. So hold on here, the lower bill is now nicely spread out but the outstanding monster bill must be cleared in 30 days? Cue the usual patronisation of the highest order about how I should be able to manage my finances etc and so on.
You are on your own here guys, it is no good trying to explain your circumstances, they just want their money. Obviously I couldn’t pay so this is where the harassment started, and it escalated.
One brown letter a week, which moved to three a week. Add in voicemails on my phone demanding I ring them back too and the stress starts to rise. You enter panic mode, At the time of the first set of hounding by the HMRC I was separated so I had redirected the mail, this helped as my parents never read the mail so nobody had a clue. What that meant was I could still hide that from my soon to be ex wife. I wanted it to stay hidden. How else was this achieved you ask? Well I told them I had moved out, backed up by the Royal Mail redirection so they never rang the home phone.
I ignored the letters as long as I could, largely so the other payment plan could complete. That plan actually went quite well until the day I got a call from an Inland Revenue inspector who had been sent to catalogue my home. By some miracle nobody was in, so he couldn’t get in. I spoke to the guy, no humour at all, I had to pay £5000 by the end of the week of they would enter my home.
Does anyone believe in miracles? One was about to happen…
After the call I sat in my car for an hour in silence, in stunned shock. I was going to get exposed now, in front of my family. I barely slept a wink that night, and arrived at work the next day on the verge of tears. And then the miracle happened, I had been in a car crash 2 years prior and had been quite badly injured but it had been ongoing every since. An hour into work my phone rang and I remember the words “Hi, it’s your solicitor, we have just been asked if you would settle for £5,500. What are the chances of that? I was saved, I paid off the £5,000 and nobody knew. However, it was a brief miracle.
When you take a payment plan, the HMRC still fine you and add in daily interest so you pay quite a lot of extra money. The minute you take the first plan, you are always behind. You are now in a circle, you pay one bill but can’t afford the other one. You pay that one, you owe another. Like I said before, I actually managed to to live on peanuts and clear a massive part of the total owed.
You will never be left alone, you will be continually hounded non stop. Your interest rate on payment plans is set to 15% by default as a previous defaulter. You will receive no sympathy at all. My total desperation to hide what was happening was wrong, I should have asked for help earlier from family and friends but pride is a powerful emotion.
I still owe them money so the letters and cycle will start again soon, this time it will be different…