Tearing my hair out. I dedicated today to doing my tax returns. I earn so little it annoys me anyway, but I (a) pay tax on my work pension so have to declare other earnings and (b) need the US foreigner tax exemption so have to be part of the system. I did, going by past experience, expect to spend the whole day. It looks as if tomorrow is spoken for, too.
1. Get messages from HMRC about tax self assessment being due.
2. After previous years, put off doing anything till the due date is looming.
3. Attempt to sign in using Government Gateway details (which have worked in the past) and find Government Gateway has closed but I can use the details to sign in to their new system.
4. But they want to verify it’s me.
5. So they send an email and I authenticate my email address.
6. They ask for my passport number. I don’t keep my passport in the lounge (who does?) so this involves a trip upstairs. Anyway, fill in the number as requested.
7. Now they want to send me an access code but do it using my old mobile phone number which no longer works. I changed my number early last year.
8. I can change my preferences and give them a new number – which means signing in again. Change preferences to include updated phone number. (And no, I can’t use the landline because they use an automated number which our Call Guardian won’t accept and I can’t white list their automated number because they won’t give it to me till I’m completely signed in.)
9. New mobile number accepted.
10. They send a code. This means going to the other end of the house. We get internet at one end of our long narrow old stone cottage and mobile coverage at the other. Not their fault, but still.
11. Back at the computer with code. Sign in.
12. At this point they tell me I’m signed into the wrong account but won’t explain.
13. Try things like clicking on continue, hoping to find a new form to fill in.
14. Just keeps going to a loop with ‘wrong account’ message.
15. Email them and they get back to me to say will deal with problem in the next two days.
16. Another email saying they’ve removed my security preferences. I think they mean the change of phone number but still, panic ensues.
17. In the process of trying to open these emails, my gmail crashes.
18. Try to reload gmail and Chrome crashes.
19. Try to reload Chrome and laptop crashes. Well, it could be coincidence but I wasn’t doing anything else…
20. All restarted. Try again with similar results including a new text code (back on my travels) and the same wrong account message. I simply don’t have another account.
21. Try phoning. Permanently engaged, except when they aren’t but aren’t answering.
22. Try their online help forum but you have to be logged into your account to access it.
23. Note that my attempts so far get me to a page which has all my details – full name, d.o.b., address, email, National Insurance number, passport number, etc. so they know exactly who I am…
24. Note that all their offers of help relate to help filling in the form. I only want access to the form which I can deal with quite happily if I can ever get it.
25. Reflect that most people only access this site once a year when their tax is due and it’s insane for them to keep changing the way things are done. Intend, if I ever get through to the phone helpline, to ask for a printed assessment form. Will let you know but it may be some time. Give up for today.
(For anyone who notices these things, yes, that’s the same frog/toad. He/she comes in handy.)