This is typical of the emails I get in: there is some sort of mistake on the part of HMRC but rather than try to sort it out in a cost efficient and timely way it drags on and on without regard for cost or scale.
Here is the email (published with permission of the sender – name given but withheld).
… My nightmare started in January 2012. I had filled in my tax return and phone and was told to wait for a written demand. None arrived until March, for the wrong amount. I phoned up, managed to get through, agreed the correct amount and paid the next day.
A few months later there was a demand for a fine, because I hadn’t paid until March. I wrote back saying I had not received a demand until March. That letter was lost, and there was a whole sequence of letters basically me writing to them and not getting a reply, and letters from them that weren’t replies to anything I had written. About 80 pages of correspondence so far, including from CEO Lin Homer, my MP, who is a Secretary of State. I pointed out to them today that this was all an incredible waste of time considering the actual amount (£600), and they agreed, but said there was ‘a process’ to go through.
… I said this was Kafkaesque, but the guy hadn’t heard of Kafka. (Czech novelist who was a lawyer employed by the Czech Civil Service, and who wrote nightmarish stories about ordinary people getting trapped in bureaucratic processes).