Let’s get something straight from the off; I really really don’t want to bash HMRC; there is no agenda, vendetta or anything else.

But this week I heard about two separate developments (that’s oxymoronic) that show HMRC is failing in its basic service to its “customers” – that’s you and me by the way.

Firstly is the news that the full rollout of HMRC’s tax-free childcare has been delayed to March 2018. Parents can apply online via the childcare choices website and the scheme was originally meant to start on 28 April 2017. Although roll-out did start this April, there were teething problems over the summer when some parents didn’t get the intended level of service when using the website. HMRC says it has now made significant improvements and, over the next few months, it will phase the opening of the service to parents of older children, while continuing to make further improvements to the system! In other words the initial setup couldn’t cope with the volume- it simply wasn’t fit for purpose. Anyone bubbling over with confidence in an immediate working solution for the launch of Making Tax Digital in 2019? Nah – didn’t think so.

Secondly and more importantly is something which could be actually costing you money. HMRC’s self-assessment calculator gives you the wrong income tax calculation in certain circumstances. That problem is grimacingly multiplied when you realise that the software your accountant uses to work out your tax bill uses the same HMRC calculator. So if you have cashed in an investment bond or are a Scottish taxpayer of pensionable age in the tax year ended 5th April 2017 and you have already filed your tax return for that tax year your income tax bill may be (significantly) greater than it should be. So you need to ask your accountant to double check the calculation of your 2016/17 tax bill ASAP or if you filed your own tax return get in touch, we’ll check the position for you and get your tax bill lowered to the correct figure.

So the moral of this piece – sometimes you just shouldn’t accept that what HMRC tells you is gospel and sometimes you need that professional advice to make sure you aren’t out of pocket.