This morning I received a letter from the Specialist Personal Tax Employee Shares & Securities Unit. My company takes advantage of an HMRC employee share option scheme that basically encourages business owners to share any gains in the value of their companies with their management. Excellent idea which has enabled me to share in the good fortunes of previous companies with several of the people who helped me build them. What works for them, works for me. So far, so good.
I originally filled out the necessary forms to advise HMRC about the scheme I had set up for a company I own. I told them who was registered on the scheme, and with how many share options they'd been allocated. I duly received confirmation that this was OK and that the appropriate members of staff were now on their computers. Great.
So today I get their annual letter saying 'please state what changes were made to your scheme during the previous tax year' (for non-UK readers, our national tax year runs from the 5th April - obviously! Makes perfect sense, don't you think). Now the first gromble is 'why ask'? If they simply made it a legal requirement to inform them (ideally online) of any changes to our scheme, such as someone being added or a change to the number of shares in circulation, then we should be obliged to provide the necessary information before the end of the tax year. But to be required to say 'nope' every single year seems a waste of everyone's time. But get this. Not only do I have to say 'nope', I have to:
- Go to http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/shareschemes/
- Find the right form from amongst this load of bollocks http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/shareschemes/ann-app-schemes.htm - because they couldn't be arsed to send it to me with the letter
- In my case this meant downloading http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/shareschemes/emi40-2012.pdf - all 8 colourful pages
- Print it out
- Write the number of our scheme on the first page, which was printed on the letter they sent me
- Ignore the next 7 pages (detailing all those changes we didn't make)
- Provide the company's name and address (which was on the letter they sent me)
- Tick a box which is also reprinted on the back of the letter they sent me to say 'nope', and sign it
- Squeeze it all into an envelope (inc all the pages that were irrelevant) whilst trying to get the address printed on the form to appear in a window envelope. I achieved this using advanced origami and inserting the contents upside down (why don't form designing twats put return addresses where envelope windows universally need them?)
- Buy an overpriced stamp (no scan and email for our HMRC), and stick it onto my upside down envelope (but now the stamp has to be stuck on the left since standard windows don't leave enough room beneath them for a British stamp)
- Drive to the post office because British post boxes don't take British A4 sized envelopes (I feel another gromble coming on)
- Only to be told that my envelope has the right stamp for its size, but now that it contains 8 pages I have to double the number of stamps because it's overweight
- My letter will arrive in Nottingham where 7 of the 8 pages will be thrown away
- The one with my signature on it saying 'nope' will be scanned and put into a massive filing cabinet where it will provide zero information to anyone, and will, by definition, remain ignored, forever.