In the UK the Inland Revenue looks after all the tax and VAT in the UK. They are probably the most understaffed organisation in the world. When I worked in Pensions a few years ago we had to occasionally get information from the Tax Office. It was not uncommon for replies to come a year later. I called up once expecting a quick response and got told there was a 6 month backlog and I shouldn't expect anything soon! (this was around 2002).
As an individual my experiences with them have been even worse. The other year I moved to New Zealand to live with a while with friends. Before I went I told them I was leaving and so I had to submit my tax early and stop my national insurance contributions. I also had several questions about my tax, about what I was eligible to pay, what I wasn't etc. I never got one response. I waited for ages on the phone and no one had any idea what to tell me. They all just said speak to your accountant but I didn't feel like paying £500 just to get an answer to what, I suspected, was a very easy question.
Me and my friend started an online shop earlier this year and have been selling the odd thing through ebay every week since. Because of this we registered a partnership and today we sent away the tax form for it (as the deadline is 31st October). So I decided to submit my individual tax form for 2007/2008, which should be easy as I was out of the country the majority of it and because I spent a lot of money on a few sites I probably made a loss as well.
Unfortunately, I am unable to do so. My user id, which has been working for 2-3 years, is not working. My password is definately working as I had to enter it to get a new user id sent….which by the way doesn't work either!!! The only message is to call up the helpdesk.
So I called up the helpdesk and got an answering machine message saying ‘Due to the high volume of calls we cannot take your call' and then it goes directly to the beeeeeeeeeeeeppppppppp.
Frustrating to say the least. There's several adverts on the tv every day telling you to submit your tax return before the deadline and then when you try to do it the system doesn't work and they've put an answering machine on the helpdesk phone line.
I've emailed them about all of this but I'm not holding my breath for a speedy reply.