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Opinion

OPINION: Apologies, but no accountability

OPINION: Apologies, but no accountability

Thursday 02 February 2023

OPINION: Apologies, but no accountability

Thursday 02 February 2023


Apologies have been forthcoming from the Revenue Service for two days' running this week as thousands of people face problems with their income tax and social security contributions. An apology will only cover so much though.

My coding notice was wrong for 2023 - I flagged this in December, and twice in January. A replacement coding notice has still not found its way to me.

My fears over my January pay being affected were not realised (thanks HR!) but I keep reading of so many other people who weren't so lucky. 

It may be skewed by the people I am connected with on my personal social media accounts, but it seems that a larger number of women have been affected by errors at the Revenue Service than men. Single mums who are entitled to additional allowances losing them, however briefly, because the Revenue Service said they hadn't been informed of any change/or no change in their circumstances. I am also aware of many women who having previously been captured through their husband's income tax returns, are now being assessed separately - but there's been some muck ups there too.

Workers_income_tax.jpg

Pictured: Errors affecting income tax and social security can have a large impact.

Now, it's only fair to say that the Revenue Service has said that with regards coding notices there is no change to the system - you always have to notify them of your circumstances. However, this is done by completing annual tax returns and telling them where you work, what you earn, how much your mortgage is, how many dependents you have, etc.

I am all up to date on my end. But the Revenue Service isn't.

My 2020 and 2021 returns are still somewhere in the backlog waiting to be processed, meaning the Revenue Service isn't sure what my current circumstances are, even though they haven't changed. So the Revenue Service created this issue where they don't know what peoples' circumstances are, and then they created themselves more work by issuing incorrect coding notices which then have to be corrected. 

This seems to be a circle of madness - more work, longer backlogs, more errors, longer backlogs. 

I am a lucky "customer" of the Revenue Service though, as it hasn't cost me anything financially yet. I feel for those who got through Christmas and January to then have their wages reduced because of errors that are not of their doing. 

Others are often worse off than ourselves, so I am also concerned for the approximate 5,600 pensioners who were sent demands for social security payments which were almost four times higher than they should have been. How has that happened?

According to the population figures published this week, that means around half of pensioners were sent this incorrect contribution requests. That is one hell of an error.

What did the Revenue Service say? 

The Service apologises for this error and any concerns it may have caused customers. Since this error was identified, staff have been apologising and explaining the issue to customers who have made contact.

We can't fault them for putting their hands up and recognising mistakes and trying to fix them as soon as possible.

But apologies can only go so far.

The stress caused by demanding money which some people just won't have, or by leaving people short changed in their pay packets, can be hugely damaging.

If you've never had to worry about how to pay for the week's food shop then you may not understand - but money worries can be incredibly stressful.

So again, apologies can only go so far. Who is accountable for these mistakes?

A faceless Revenue Service has apologised. The staff have been apologising to individual customers. But who is accountable?

That individual - who will be at the very top of the tree - should be apologising and ensuring these mistakes are not repeated. 

 

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