Like many people in this region, I am not afraid to criticise Travel West Midlands when I consider it to be justified.
However, I feel that in the adverse weather conditions, they deserve our praise for the way in which they have kept the buses running, mainly on time, when other authorities such as London Transport failed miserably to provide any sort of service for their residents.
Well done, TWM.
Chris (Taz ) Jones.
Dear Editor, Not so many years ago, when it snowed, each house would clear its own area of snow, and where there were old people the neighbours used to clean theirs. It was like a community spirit without strings, people just did it. But not now. If you cleared the snow you would have half your neighbours’ lying down on your pavement with a writ clutched in their hands, and that’s the problem - the compo culture has turned good deeds into law suits, and good intentions into cash, so it’s little surprise that a little snow costs so much, with the gritters counting the price and the councils counting the cost.
S T Vaughan
Glastonbury Road, Yardley Wood, Birmingham
Tax payment support plan ‘is not working’
Dear Editor, HM Revenue & Customs’ response (28 January 2009) to your editorial regarding the Business Payment Support Service was sadly misleading.
When Chancellor Alistair Darling announced in the Pre-Budget Report that businesses would be able to delay the payment of taxes with effect from 24 November 2008, the briefing which appeared on HMRC’s website stated that the scope of the service was to cover “most taxes and duties, including income tax, corporation tax, VAT, PAYE and national insurance”.
The briefing was so unclear that a notice has been issued which states that the scheme is open to subcontractors, provided they approach HMRC to agree a time to pay before the due date for the payment.
It also suggests that given HMRC’s automated system, letters cancelling gross payment status may still be issued and the suggested advice is to appeal. That in itself is a remarkable method of going about things.
On the introduction of the deferral mechanism in November, we did contact the Service regarding businesses within the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) only to be told they had no information, as it was not mentioned in their specific guidance. .
One real life example is the case where a client received a notice of HMRC’s intention to withdraw their gross status because of “compliance failures”. They were accused of being late with four payments by between one and seven days. To lose the CIS exemption would cause cash-flow problems, damage business relationships and seriously threaten the future of the business.
Our examination revealed that payment was one day late, being due on March 22 but received on March 23, Easter Sunday. Of the other three late payments in the period, none were more than six days late and according to the HMRC website, that is no grounds for failing the scheduled review. But when we looked further, 16 of our client’s last 19 payments were early and, of the three paid late, none were more than six days late.
We submitted an appeal on December 16 2008. To date, we have had no response despite six follow-up calls to HMRC hoping to speak to an experienced professional, or even find someone to take responsibility.
Given that HMRC has 28 days to reply, even allowing 14 days for Christmas, my client has still to have a response some 48 days later as I write.
The Scheme may work for some but not for many within the construction industry. At a time when the Government is claiming to be supporting business, it is being let down by its servants - as are taxpayers.
Terri Halstead, Tax Partner
Haines Watts, Francis Road, Edgbaston