In my last edition, I made fun of my complete inability to speak German (the 'O' Level unclassified remains a solitary blot on an otherwise OK academic record).
This is now causing problems. To explain, a client is a subsidiary of a German company who have adopted Microsoft Teams as their preferred telephone/message app across their entire business. Now when I call and it goes to voicemail the greeting is in German.
So, I have a choice.
1. Do I just hang up and try again later ?
2. Do I try and leave a message in German ? (which, for all I know I might be asking for a call back or might be booking my wheelbarrow in for a pedicure)
3. Do I leave a message in English and show my ignorance ?
Fortunately inspiration hit me. The answer is to leave it in English but SHOUT and (just in case the video is recording) point at the telephone. It always worked when travelling abroad, guess it will work here too.
On that note, what are my positives ?
1. The unpaid tax surcharge is being deferred
It has long been the case that if self assessment tax (due 31st January) is 28 days late (ie not paid by the end of February) a 5% late payment surcharge is added on.
This has been a bit of a worry this year, especially given that with the deadline for submitting returns being pushed to 28th February it will, in some cases, be tricky to pay the tax when it still as yet isn't calculated.
Fortunately the surcharge date has now been pushed back to the end of March. The tax must either be paid by then (or a payment plan agreed) to avoid the surcharge..
2. Maria's tax is paid
Maria is an avid reader of The Positive Accountant, listens to what I say and always takes my advice. (Contrary to the popular belief of my children, such people do exist)
So, having read the last edition and as a result being alert to scam phone calls purporting to be HMRC, on receipt of a call about unpaid tax she was especially rude to the caller and slammed the phone down.
Then she called me to check.
Unfortunately the call was genuine...and highlights a real problem that HMRC have helped create.
You see, Maria always gives me her books really early (her year end is February, we prepared the accounts in March last year). So in March I told her what her tax bill was. She commented on how low it was and what a good job I'd done, signed and filed the papers.
The tax was due in November, by which time she was enduring the pressures familiar to many of us - keeping a business going in lockdown, keeping staff employed working from home, managing supply chains, preparing for Brexit, home schooling, managing to keep far too many balls in the air. She had completely forgotten about the tax, last mentioned about nine months earlier.
Bills were being paid when asked for but otherwise her focus was understandably elsewhere.
Unfortunately HMRC no longer reliably send reminders of tax due. The only guaranteed communication you will get from HMRC about tax is when it is overdue and has penalties/interest running. And so, you guessed it, Maria forgot about paying her tax - the first she knew about it was the 'scam' phone call.
The cynic might suggest that HMRC are pursuing this path to generate much needed unofficial extra tax through the interest/penalties. Even taking a more charitable view, it is just the latest in a long line of unpaid outsourcing.
Maria has learned from this and is making sure in future that she puts a note in her diary to pay it.
3. I'm not overweight, I'm undertall...
Spare a thought for poor old Liam Thorp, a 30 year old with no underlying health issues, called for his CV jab as by his Body Mass Index he was morbidly obese(BMI is weight divided by height squared, obese is between 30 and 39.9.)
Liam's BMI was 28,000. Yes, you read that correct 28,000.
Caused by the NHS computer having his height as 6.2 cm....
And we trust this type of data to manage and run the country ?
It's a weekend, so here's something for you ponder - What do get if you cross a rhetorical question with a joke ?
On that note,
Stay safe, stay positive
Times change. I remember in my youth seeing bumper stickers that said 'My other car is a Mercedes Benz'
Here's a Mercedes now wanting to move upmarket to a Tesla