Moira Stewart is now my least favourite person in the entire world.
I received a letter from the Government Gateway this week, "ah, must be my activation code" but no, it isn't - it contained a neat little card with a number on it which is my user ID. This number I already knew because that was given to me on-line. What a waste of paper! Don't they know that the rainforests are being cut down in order to send out useless letters and cards?
Sigh, apparently the activation number is sent separately - in another envelope. WHY? WHY? WHY? Another waste of paper - just do it at the same time, save postage, save paper, save useless pieces of cards, save my bloody sanity! Who are these numpties running the tax department?!
Anyway, the activation arrives a couple of days AFTER the user ID (which I already knew) and so finally I can file on-line. It wasn't too difficult, actually because of how straightforward my affairs are and I had all the information to hand that I knew I would need. By answering a few simple questions early on, they cut out a lot of the stuff that isn't applicable to me. I now know exactly how much money I need to pay. So a nice pat on the back there to the tax man.
The hard part is paying on-line. I can pay using a one-off direct debit, great! Finding out where that is from the "How to pay" page was tricky ... very tricky (haven't they heard of on-line links?!) but I got there in the end and started to set it up ... now I need my self assessment reference number ... um, what's that? I have a Tax Reference number (won't that do?) no, the on-line DD form says it has a K after 10 digits. I don't have any numbers that look like that, my User ID has 12 numbers in it (too many and no K), my Tax Reference number has 10 numbers (right number but no K). According to the "How to pay Self Assessment" page on the HMRC website: "This is shown on the payslip HMRC sends you and is located in the reference box." What?! They have to send me another piece of paper so I can pay on-line?!
That can't be right - I phone the telephone number, they work Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and some of Saturday but not on Sunday. I finally come across a reference checker page so I enter my Tax Reference number (without a K just in case ...) but the page automatically adds a K for me and apparently my Self Assessment Reference Number IS the same as my Tax Reference Number (it just has a K on the end - why didn't they tell me that in the first place?!) Why not just call them the same thing and leave the K on the end (or do we need a K at all? this is complication for complication's sake).
So, I CAN now FINALLY pay using the one off On-line Direct Debit form ... where was that page again? I've bloody well lost it! (in more ways than one).