After realising how hard it is for disabled people to be able to do things that they would like to do and seeing how expensive everything is, equipment and the like, I decided that I wanted to try to do something to help. I spoke to the HMRC about how I would go about this and they gave me advice which I have followed to the letter however now I feel that I must share with you a letter which I have written to Her Majesties Revenue and Customs as I am struggling to do exactly what they have told me to do. I hope that the letter will explain all to you, I think it should do, and whilst I know that there is always a possibility that it could all end up on its ass, I just really want to try. Anyway, here is the letter.
Letter to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
“To whom it may concern.
I have spent a considerable amount of time trying unsuccessfully to register as a not for profit organisation which I was told to do by your very own charities department. The advice I was given by this department was to make an appointment to visit my local tax office who would be able to register everything for me there. I therefore called the office and left a message at the office on the answer machine for them to call me from the afore mentioned office, to arrange an appointment to visit the very office that I had I left a message with.
With the appointment booked I made my way over to the office in Taunton at the stated time and explained why I was there to the gentleman behind the desk. He looked at your very own website to try to see how he would register me as a not for profit organisation as he did not know how to do it, after around twenty minutes of looking he picked up the phone and dialled a number while telling me he could not find the information of how to register or indeed which form would need to be filled in, to that end he was calling the charities department. I told the gent that this was the very department that had told me to make an appointment to see the tax office and that they would not be able to help but he said that they should be able to point him in the right direction. After ten minutes on the phone to them he handed me the phone and I had to explain to the department that they had told me to make an appointment to visit my local tax office who would be able to register me as the not for profit organisation that the charities department had told me that I had register as.
After explaining in what I know was plain and simple English, (I know this as I was born and bred in Somerset and my parents are both English), I was told that I was speaking to the wrong department and that I needed to make an appointment to see my local Tax office who would register me there. I pointed out to the lady on the phone that I was actually sitting in the local Tax office using the Tax office telephone and that the Tax office had called the charities department as they did not know how to register a not for profit organisation and that they figured that the charities department would know who to call or which form to fill out. The reply I got was that I was talking to the wrong department and that I needed to call to make an appointment to see the local Tax office!
I again explained right from the beginning of how I had called the charities department and spoken to them about registering but because I could not guarantee raising £5000 per annum, I needed to register as a not for profit organisation and that I needed to make an appointment to see my local Tax office who would register for me. This is what I had done and now the local Tax office had called the charities department to ask how to register as a not for profit organisation and now we were talking as the charities department had asked to speak to me. What I was told next was simply unbelievable. I was told that I needed to make an appointment to see my local Tax office who would register for me. It was at this point I that I again explained in perfect, slowly and clearly spoken English right from the beginning again, and emphasising that I was at that moment in time sitting IN MY LOCAL TAX OFFICE, ON THE TAX OFFICE TELEPHONE, IN FRONT OF THE TAX OFFICE ADVISOR as this is what I had been told to do by the charities department and the reason that the TAX OFFICE had called was because the LOCAL TAX OFFICE did not know how to do it and that they had called the charities department to find out which form to fill out or who they needed to speak to in order for the LOCAL TAX OFFICE to register the not for profit organisation as told by the charities department. Reply; “MR Pas, this is not the department you need to speak to, you need to call the local Tax office and make an appointment to see them and they will register it for you”.
As you can imagine, after going round in circles talking to possibly the least helpful female in the HMRC offices ever employed, I handed the phone back to the Tax office gent who after ten further minutes of trying to find out how to register a not for profit organisation, hung up the phone and apologised that despite being in the Tax office for nearly 60 minutes, we were no further on for registering the not for profit organisation than when I had first walked in. He set about trying to find the form on the computer which would be how I would register and after reading the part on the HMRC website about not for profit organisation registration, he came to a form CHA 1, a charity registration form. He told me that I should fill this form out and send it in to the address on the website, I thanked him for his time and went home.
When I got home I went on to the website and found the form, I could not read the form and followed the instruction for downloading the latest Adobe reader programme which would enable me to read it. This I did despite having a three day old computer using Windows 8, which would have all of the latest software on it. Anyway, I downloaded and ran the software but still could not read the form. I called a friend and asked her if she could read the form and she said that she could so I asked her if she could print the form off for me and bring it home. Unfortunately you have to fill the form in on line and can not print the form off until it is complete. This is a problem. She emailed the form to me which worked and I set about filling the form in despite knowing that this would be a waste of time as I could not register as a charity and that this was clearly a form for charity registration, but as the Tax office had told me to do it after reading the HMRC website it could not be wrong.
I filled out the form as best as I could filling in all the relevant information stating where possible that it was for a not for profit registration. It would not let me print the form until I had bank account details which I obviously did not have as I did not even know if I could set up as a not for profit organisation. Despite this, I went to the bank and explained the situation and they helpfully opened an account. They called a few days later with the a/c number for me to fill the form in.With all of the information as full as possible filled in, I printed the form and put it in an envelope and sent the form to the address on the website and waited for the reply. So you can not print the form until it is completed but you then have to send the form via regular mail as it can not be sent electronically, what member of the bright ideas club thought of that?
The reply came a few weeks later informing me that I had not filled in the form correctly as the information to register as a CHARITY was incomplete, all this DESPITE NOT FOR PROFIT written in every available space where it was asking for things for the Charity, explaining in perfect English that it was not required for the not for profit organisation as told on the HMRC website. When I received the letter and form back from HMRC I called the charities department about the form and after a long period on the phone I was told, you guessed it, to make an appointment to see the local Tax office and they would register for me. It was here that I explained that I had done all of this and that they did not know how to do it, I explained the events that had occurred and got another “call to make an appointment to see the local Tax office”. I could not believe this and asked to speak to the manager.
I spoke to the manager and went through every step of what had happened, and that she being the manager must have been put in the position as she was clever and had common sense but if this was the case, why was she also unable to help. I asked her at what point in time do you, as the manager of a department who people would call to register charities knowing that you will have to inform people that they are not eligible to register as a charity but need to register as a not for profit organisation, find out which form or department you need to register. She told me she would find out the information required and call me back. This never happened. I called a couple of days later and spoke to another lady who told me she would get someone to call me. After an hour the same lady called me back and asked if I had received a call to which I replied “No”, she then informed me that I needed to call another number and ask to speak to a complaints manager who “Would have to help and would definitely find out who I needed to speak to.” This I did. I spoke to the guy on the phone and explained EVERYTHING to him, he asked for my company reference which I obviously could not give him to which he asked; “Why was I calling him then”. I told him why and that I needed to speak to a complaints manager, he informed me that they do not have any.
A short while later I received a call from a complaints manager who has tried to help despite it not being something he deals with but as yet even he has not been able to find out how to register as a not for profit organisation. To that end the saga continues. I have demanded all my calls be logged as I know they are recorded and that I wish for copies of the conversations to be sent to me which I have been told I am not entitled to. I know this information to be false under the freedom of information act. The reason for my needing the conversations is for when the Tax office eventually take me to court for tax on earnings from money I have raised through fundraising events. I have tried to do things by the book, crossing `T`’s and dotting `I`’s but if your very own HMRC do not know how to register a not for profit organisation then how do you expect a member of the public to be able to?
Your website information is laughable, the staff in your charities department are poorly trained and ill advised and as far as I can make out simply read a default script if they are unable to help or need to go out of their remit, the script being “You need to make an appointment to see your local Tax office”. To say I am disgusted by the distinct lack of willingness to help would be an understatement and I can only assume that the people in your charities department were either dropped on their heads at a young age or have failed every exam before leaving school. The opening question on the application form must be, “Do you want to help people?” and unless the answer is “No” they will not be employed. I have been informed by the complaints manager that after calling round various departments and talking to colleagues in his department, the CHA 1 form CAN be used to register a not for profit organisation and to that end I am sending the form back to you. I do not expect anything more than a letter attached to the form being sent back to me telling me to go to my local Tax office but I live in hope. I am still waiting for the conversations that I have had with the various people from the charities department and other departments as people have made like a coke bottle and sloped shoulders to pass to someone else in the hope that they know what they are doing.
I suggest that the manager of the charities department find out which department or form is required to register a not for profit organisation and educate her staff in her department on which department or forms are required to prevent another member of the public being made a fool of and being messed around wasting their time like I have. Failing this, I suggest that the manger of the Charities department find other employment, I hear that supermarkets are always looking.
A copy of this letter is being sent to my local MP, posted on my internet site, and as you like the place so much I am also sending a copy to my local Tax office. I look forward to receiving the recordings of the telephone conversations and hope that you may even find out and send to me the forms required to register as a not for profit organisation. For your information, this so far has taken me around seven months.
Yours, hoping you take at least some of what I have written on board and act on it.”
Mr G Pas
So now I wait to see if the HMRC staff can actually find out who I need to speak to so that I can sort this out. Really, is it so difficult to do something to help others????