This blog post has been stirring in me for a little while now and is a bit of a rant, but I hope useful for something.
As a SFEDI qualified business adviser I help start-up social enterprise and indeed those that are well established. I therefore look out for things that will help, as many need all the help they can get. When I saw the ‘Regional Employer NICs Holiday for New Businesses’ I thought yes and [as a start-up enterprise] applied myself. So what is this scheme you ask?
In a nutshell it is a scheme that enables new businesses [in their first year] who employ people in their first year to have an employers NIC holiday for those they employ [maximum that you can hold back for each employee is £5k and up to 10 employees]. You still pay the Tax, but [subject to application] are granted an Employer’s NIC holiday and therefore hold this back.
Great so far yes, but now for the problems I’m facing:
Despite sending off the forms with all the details of what I held back [which is less than £1k] etc.. I received a letter about 4 weeks ago saying I owed this exact amount and must pay it now! So on the phone [HMRC premium rate line] I went to speak with a nice guy who said ‘it’s probably our fault’ thought that was refreshing and it would be sorted, but no, that would be too efficeint and simple wouldn’t it?
A few days later came a message on my office phone from a uknown caller [I guessed it was the tax office] saying and I quote ‘you must call this number quoting reference xxxxxxx by a said date [two days]‘. No name, no anything else really, nice I thought, but duly called the office [premium rate number again]!
On answer, no one was able to deal with my call, ‘we’ll call you back!’ I’m going out to an appointment I said, Oh they said [like that was unusual], I’ll see if I can get someone to call back in 15 mins and someone did! But and it’s a big but, ‘we haven’t been told by the [other office that deals with NICs holiday] that you’ve sent your form in, perhaps you can call them, but rest assured we won’t be taking you to court’. Court I thought, I haven’t done anything for you to take me to court! anyway…
Now bear in mind I have now had three phone calls with the Tax office I receive another letter saying ‘previously, we treated your lack of response as an oversight. Now, if you do not pay or contact us, we will treat this as an active choice and we will start debt recovery action.’ I’m not exactly quaking in my boots, but I am now very anoyed!
So I’ve called [the office that deals with Nics holiday] this morning [premium rate number again] to be told ‘I can’t help you with that, you’ll need to speak to our ‘technical team’, they tried to put me through, no joy, tried again, no joy. ‘I’m sorry our technical team are very busy, can they call you back?’ Yes please call me back! ‘The turnaround time is 48 hours, they must be really busy then I say to myself and of course have a bit more of a whine to the person on the phone…
Whilst waiting for the technical team, I thought I’d better call the collections team to tell them again that I’m not ignoring their letter and put in a bit of a complaint and tell them I’m going to invoice for my time in sorting this out and any late payment will be treated as a ‘choice’ and interest will be added at a daily extortionate rate just like HMRC.
Now I feel a lot better having shared this with you and will now write my complaint letter. I’ll update you how I get on here, but if you’re experiencing problems with the NICs holiday then do let me know! Do also let me know if you applied and had no problems as we like to have a balanced approach with both sides of the story!