Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Considerable tax relief!

It's finished and gone!

It's that anxious time of year again – filing your tax return if you live in the UK! The deadline of midnight 31st January looms if you file your return on line. If you still file by paper then the deadline for this tax year (2014-15) is long past as it was midnight 31st October 2015. 

These days it is easier to file on-line – once you have collected together all the necessary information. On-line filing has become easier as the HMRC site now works out the tax you owe and when. This wasn't the case when on-line filing was introduced. 

However an increasingly sophisticated site doesn't mean that nothing can go wrong as I discovered this morning. Having collected all the necessary information together, I was feeling reasonably smug at being considerably further in advance of the deadline than I have in some previous years. 

I tapped in my user ID and password that I had been given back in January 2014 by HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) and used successfully for my last two returns. Horrors! My ID and password weren't valid – despite them matching the information sent two years ago. 

What to do?! You can ask for a new ID and password but can take HMRC up to ten days to get it to you by post. Far too late for me as I'm off to Montpellier and Millésime Bio on Saturday and then going onto the Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers. Not back until after the end of January deadline and £100 fine for late filing. 

I tried applying on-line for a new password but my ID wasn't recognised – nor initially did it like my email address – declared to be invalid despite HMRC sending me emails using self-same address.... 

Fortunately there was another option: GOV.UK Verify. This allows you to establish your identity through a company. I chose The Post office. According to GOV.UK this would take around 10 minutes. Fat chance and ridiculously optimistic. About 90 minutes later I was finally registered with the Post Office identity scheme. The tricky bit is getting the pictures of your passport right as well as a couple of selfies, which have to show a little movement to prove that you a living being – not a stuffed dummy. 

However, it was worth the hassle. It got me onto my tax return form – easier than faffing around with HMRC's disappearing ID and password. Let's hope GOV.UK Verify works again in January 2017....!

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