Wednesday, 27 January 2016

filed with four days to spare

I have submitted my tax return.  When I'd finished I waited for a Zen feeling of calm contentment to descend on me, as promised by the posters at Colchester railway station showing a woman in a lotus position exuding calmness after successfully completing her tax return, but I did not experience any Zen calm, only the feeling of exasperation produced by a morning of grappling with online passwords, and investment company help desk staff who seemed never to have heard of dividend tax credits or the January 31 deadline for filing tax returns online.  Or know that dividend income counts as income for tax purposes even if you reinvest it.

If I were a cynical person, which of course I am not, I should say that investment management companies deliberately make it as difficult as possible for their clients to log on to their websites or discover anything about their investments because customer inertia is one of the methods they rely on to maintain funds under management.  You are less likely to move your investments if the very thought of checking on them fills you with exhaustion and despondency.  And I would cynically believe that the anti money laundering regulations that require long standing customers with quite modest sums under management to supply certified copies of their passports and utilities bills to prove their identities were mainly designed to give an impression by the banks and financial authorities that they were taking active steps to prevent money laundering.  If I were engaged in money laundering, or funding terrorism, or any other nefarious financial activity, I don't think I'd be doing it by investing in accumulation units in UK index funds and then letting them do nothing else except accumulate for fifteen years.

An honourable exception is first direct.  I know it is customary to criticise UK banks, but honestly I have never found their telephone service anything other than extremely helpful, only I don't need to use it very often because their website is user friendly as well.  They still want certified proof of who I am, though, even though in the fifteen years I've banked with them since being made redundant from the City no large or mysterious deposits have appeared in my account.

Anyway, the tax return is done now, and maybe the Zen calm will descend once I've certified myself to the financial providers demanding proof of who I am.  The Systems Administrator has shown me how to use the printer to scan my passport, so I now know how that function on the printer works which will be handy if I ever need to scan anything else.  And at least I've had some more use out of the passport.  Since we holiday in the UK the only other thing I've used it for is proving my identify to the bank so that I could be the beekeepers' treasurer.  The UK may not officially have identity cards, but if you don't drive (so no driving licence) and don't actually want to go abroad you could still end up paying £72.50 for a passport, just to prove who you are to the financial services industry, or be allowed to collect parcels that have ended up at the depot because you were out when they called.

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