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Dodgy hold music, glitches and a thousand passwords: top 5 painful Self Assessment moments

2-minute read

Sam Bromley

24 January 2020

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Completing your Self Assessment in time for the deadline is often challenging. And just when you’re ready to file, you come up against HMRC’s website...

Here are some of the best reactions to what can be a maddening process. What are your top frustrations? Let us know in the comments below.

1. HMRC website crashes weeks before the Self Assessment deadline

While 11 million self-employed taxpayers need to log on and complete their Self Assessment by the 31 January deadline each year, some businesses also need to complete quarterly VAT returns.

For many of those businesses, there was a deadline on 7 January – but software problems caused HMRC’s website to shut down, leading to an extension for those who weren’t able to file.

HMRC’s used to technical glitches. Last year we reported on a problem with payment on account, which could have led to a larger tax bill than expected.

2. ”Enter the Latin name for fox”

This tweet is an oldie but a goodie and we noticed people reposting it over the January Self Assessment period.

The modern world is one full of passwords, user IDs and secret questions. It’s difficult to keep track of which log in details you’ve used for different websites.

But logging in to government and HMRC websites is notoriously painful. While we’re all for security, it adds more complexity to the Self Assessment process, so you always need to be prepared.

3. Password not recognised

And even when you think you’re prepared, there’s no guarantee you’ll get into the system. It’s extremely easy to forget passwords, but HMRC’s extra security measures make it hard to reset your details.

4. Is HMRC’s hold music a guilty pleasure?

Sometimes you run into enough problems that you need to actually pick up the phone and call HMRC. And with the lines busy, you’re confronted by HMRC’s hold music.

But it’s catchy and it might make you forget the reason you’re calling HMRC, for a few blissful minutes at least...

5. Reminder, after reminder, after reminder…

Depending on how charitably you want to describe reminders, HMRC helpfully lets you know when your tax return and payment are due.

But they also send generic reminders even if you’ve already paid up and completed your return, which can be confusing.

What are the most frustrating parts of the Self Assessment process? Let us know in the comments.

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