I am a self-employed freelance journalist. Because I am an American expat working in the UK, I must file and pay British self-employment taxes and make contributions to National Insurance (universal healthcare). I pay my taxes and I pay them on time. I paid my 2007-2008 taxes in January, well ahead of the Jan. 31, 2009 deadline. So it was with great surprise that I received a bill from HM Revenue & Customs today, claiming that I incorrectly figured my taxes, and that I now owe a further balance. But the real shocker was the amount owed: £0.01. Yes, that's right. I am indebted to Her Majesty's government in the amount of 1 Penny Sterling. That's about 1.5 U.S. cents. I'm gobsmacked!
To make this story even more ridiculous, HM Revenue & Customs printed and posted the bill to me by 2nd Class Royal Mail. A 2nd Class domestic UK stamp costs £0.24 pence. And that's not even counting the cost of the paper, envelope, pre-addressed return evenlope, ink and manpower required to send this notice. I originally filed and paid my taxes online; they have my e-mail address, so why didn't they just send me an e-mail to inform me of this penny? And now they expect me to spend a further £0.24 pence to mail them a check (cheque) for £0.01!!
The bill does note that because the amount owed is small, I may ignore the bill and pay the penny on my next taxes; BUT doing so may subject me to late fees.
As a British taxpayer, I'm outraged at this waste of tax money! It may not sound like a lot, but it all ads up. If HM Revenue sends out 100 similar penny bills, they've wasted at least £24 just to collect 24 pennies! I don't know about you all but this ticks me off to no end. Click on the image to see my tax bill!
UPDATE: I pitched this story to a few London newspapers but I haven't heard back from anybody. Oh well. I intend to pay the bill later this week IN CASH, in person at the Post Office. I'll be damned if I'm going to waste a good stamp to mail them a penny check. Besides, I only have 1st class, 36p stamps!