Tag Archives: Inland Revenue

Dear Inland Revenue….

In the Inland Revenue offices, found under "D for Dog"

Dear Sir/ Madam,

 Thank you for the Notice of Determination of penalty for a late Tax Return for the year ended 5 April 2010. It was an unpleasant surprise to receive this document , since I had already replied to your first notification, explaining my position and why it is no longer necessary for me to submit a tax return to your office. That reason is that, since MY MOVE TO CANADA, your own office issued me with an exemption from UK tax. I pay tax here in Canada, in accordance with the taxation agreement between the United Kingdom and Canada.

 I am disappointed that you have had to send out a notice informing me that you intend to fine me. Surely you have a database of tax exempt individuals? If not, I am sure any reputable database company could supply you with one. Or you could use EDS.

 You may feel I am over-reacting to a minor inconvenience, but I believe that you have this information easily available to you and it is lazy over-automation that dispenses these notices, causing unnecessary cost to the public.

If you feel the need to send another demand for money I do not owe, I would appreciate the courtesy of a named individual to write to. You may also wish to consider the implications of using e-mail, which would speed up the process considerably. For example, the notice informing me (erroneously) that I had failed to file my return took two weeks to reach me, by which time more than half the allotted response time had elapsed. You do not trouble to use airmail to send your demand, but seem to insist that I do so to reach your office within your deadline. This seems presumptuous, especially considering, as I have already mentioned, that your own office issued me with my exemption.

This last week I have been working with accountants to complete my tax return here in Canada. I will be paying tax here in Canada. I have paperwork attesting to that fact. You, also, should have paperwork indicating that this is the case. If you do not, I suggest that the fault lies with your filing system, as indicated by the generation of this insulting demand in the first place. If you wish to discuss this matter with me in person, I suggest you stay up past midnight to call me on the telephone. If you find this request unreasonable, perhaps you will explain why you expect ME to stay up past midnight so I can speak to YOU on the phone*.

I will understand if you feel this letter to be rude or sarcastic. I will not, however, apologise in this instance. All my dealing with the UK Inland Revenue have been impersonal, difficult and, without exception, riddled with errors. Time and again your offices have lost documents, started irrelevant procedures and made unreasonable demands or accusations. I had hoped that by moving to a different country and paying tax to a different government,  that I would be freed of this problem, but alas this is not the case.

Please. Please. Please. Look up your records. Perhaps under “Trasler, D.” I completed the paperwork to be taxed only HERE IN CANADA. THAT is why I did not file a 2009/2010 return in the UK. Because I’m filing one here. Where I live and work. I don’t owe you a fee, or a penalty. You owe me postage and an apology.

Damian Trasler

*I will not be calling on the phone, as it was an error made by an Inland Revenue employee during a phone conversation that lead to an enormous amount of paperwork and wasted effort on a separate issue. From that point on, all my dealings with the Inland Revenue have been by correspondence. I have never received a letter from the same person twice, and you have now ceased to indicate at all the presence or identity of human beings in your offices.

Almost an anniversary

The Tiny Weasels on Arrival Day

The Tiny Weasels Pose, reluctantly, in Vancouver airport

There are still four more days until we reach the one year point, but I’m aware that time is flying at the moment and we’ve already booked a restaurant for that evening – the first place we ate in, as it happens, a lovely place called Milestones on English Bay. It’s part of a chain of eateries, but each one is quite distinct, and this one was our favourite.

I’ve been thinking, on and off, about what I feel about living in Canada. There are still moments of amazement, when the fact that we live so far from family come home to us. There are still days when I worry about driving on the wrong side of the road. Come to think of it, there are still days when I get in the car and wonder where the steering wheel is…

Were there any things I thought I would never get used to? Seeing mountains. When I arrive for work, if the day is clear, I can see mountains on almost every part of the horizon. The reason I can’t see mountains behind me where I park is because the skytrain track loops around the store there, and that’s an amazing view in it’s own right. When I was a kid I used to read “2000ad” and the futuristic city of Mega City One had raised roads that curled and swooped through the cityscape. That’s what I think of when I see the Skytrain.

I still convert currency in my head. Most of the times it’s to reassure myself. I look at new books on sale and think “$30! My God!” and then think, “No, wait, that’s about eighteen quid…Fair enough.” I was surprised when I converted the price of our new house though. Surprised, then ashamed. I will not speak of it.

Some things still strike me as odd though. In the UK I made lasagne, using mince, pasta sheets and two sauces. The red sauce I made from scratch, the white I got out of a jar. Over here they don’t seem to have those jars. I can get pretty much any type of pasta sauce I want, except that white sauce. Last week I made the white sauce from scratch too, and it was brilliant, but it does mean more washing up.

Laundry is great here. In the UK, we didn’t have a tumble drier. Well, we had one once,but we were too eco-conscious to use it much. And it broke down. Over here there was already a huge washer and drier lurking down in the laundry area of the basement. No guilt attached, they’re already here, use ’em! Did you know that when you wash socks and dry them in a tumble drier, they come out soft? Actually soft! My socks used to retain the shape of the radiator….

Hmm. That’s something I haven’t got the hang of. There are vents in the floor of this house that should produce heat when it’s cold. They’re supposed to be controlled by the tiny LCD screen on the wall over there *Dim points*. Mostly I don’t touch it, because I don’t understand it, but on occasion I stare at it in frustration. It can get quite cold here. Then I have another cup of coffee, because I CAN work the coffee machine, which is something else I love about here. The instant coffee is dreadful, but I’ve got the hang of setting the machine before I walk the weasels to school and when I get home, there’s a jug of fresh coffee waiting for me. And it stays hot for two hours! Coffee is a big deal over here. I used to see people carrying take out coffee cups on their way to school and wonder where they had picked them up. Later I realised they might have gone out for coffee and come back to do the school run. I still get surprised to see people walking into the store where I work carrying Starbucks cups. Mind you, I only learned the other day that pets are allowed. Who takes their dog to go shopping for home improvement materials? Well, quite a few people, as it turns out.

I’ve nearly got used to hearing Eldest Weasel’s Canadian accent when she talks to her friends, because it upsets her if we wince. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing Tiniest Weasel gliding around on ice skates. She’s only just turned six! All three weasels have proved themselves adept at the winter sports, taking to ice skating, skiing and sledging like they were born to it.

It’s funny, reaching March and starting to recognise some of the things we saw fresh when we arrived. There’s a regular promotion in Tim Horton’s (a coffee shop chain), where you roll up the rim of your coffee cup to see if you’ve won a prize. That’s just come round again. It’s tax time here too, with many reminders going out for folks to get advice, download free software and so on. I’m in negotiation with the Inland Revenue, since in the midst of the excitement of moving I missed my last self-assessment. Yes, I owe the Inland Revenue a fine (if I’ve made a profit on writing in 08/09) but it’s now in the hands of the accountant we’ve finally sorted. He has a lot to cope with, what with royalties going into the UK bank account, Mrs Dim’s Military Pension, and both sets of Canadian wages being paid over here….

But one whole year. That’s pretty immense, any way you slice it. We arrived here in the middle of the night, relieved to get through Immigration – and it seems stupid now, but we had no “plan B”. If Immigration had turned us around (as they could have) we had no idea what we would have done next. No house, no jobs, no school for the weasels… When I think about it like that, it all seems much more of a gamble than we ever thought. I don’t know how Mrs Dim was looking at it, but I was focussing on one thing at a time. If you asked me five hours before we left for the flght what my biggest worry was, and I would have told you it was packing everything we needed into the nine suitcases we had. At the airport it was whether we’d catch the flight, and then whether the weasels would behave on the flight. Then it was getting through Immigration, finding a taxi, getting into the accommodation we had booked. Even when we were all in The Rosellen Suites and had our cases, I was worried about what we would eat for breakfast.

And now? Well, the house was really the last thing on our list. We came to Canada to improve our lives, to give the weasels more opportunities. We came to find some space, somewhere with some wilderness left. We have jobs, the weasels have a school, we have a dog, we have a house that we couldn’t have afforded in the UK. We are, I would say, settled. Now we’re looking forward to the holiday, to the move, to the visitors that will begin to arrive days fter we move into the New Wonkey House and will continue to stream in all through the long (hopefully hot) summer. Though the first year is coming to a close , I’ll continue to blog because the adventure isn’t over.

 The adventure doesn’t end.