A couple of weeks ago I described how the wife of a friend received a letter from the Inland Revenue giving her the good news that a refund of £170 was owed to her. She would receive a cheque for £25 straight away and the balance of £145 would be sent after the end of this tax year.
The lady has indeed this week received a cheque for £25 and with it a £100 fine for submitting a late claim.......... "eh, but it wasn't late, how could it be late if you've sent me a refund?" "No matter," they cheerfully suggested, "pay the £100 by March 5th and we'll look into it."
"You owe me £145, take it out of that," she proposes. "No," they sternly counter, "if we don't receive the £100 by 5th, then interest at a penal rate will be implemented on a daily basis."
£145 isn't going to make a dent in the National Debt. It's becoming obvious though, when you put this together with other anecdotal stories, that the Revenue are indeed going to extraordinary lengths to minimise pay outs before the end of the tax year which is, coincidentally, suspiciously close to the General Election.