Tuesday, August 5, 2008

let's play hunt the tax office

I needed to post a letter to my local tax office. I know where the office is - I pass the building [virtually] every day. But I did not know the correct postal address and post code [zip code], so I went online to hmrc.gov.uk and looked on the home page for a pertinent link. Surely one of the reasons someone might visit this site is to find a physical location of a tax office - but nothing jumped out at me, so I clicked on 'contact us'. From there I was taken to the page shown below, where I clicked on 'tax offices for individual enquiries'.
From there I was presented with this page:

Hmmmmmmm.

'Contact my local tax office' - yes that's what I'm looking for.

'... telephone number can be found on any recent correspondence'. Errr, no - I've had no recent communication, I just want to send them a letter.

Then under 'Tax Office locator' - yes, I'm trying to locate a tax office - 'Please enter one of the following:'

'Employer Reference' - now, I have every wage slip since I started with my current employer nearly 10 years ago ... and I cannot see anything that resembles an 'employer reference'. It also advises me to contact my employer for this - if I rang our payroll dept I dare say they would have the address of the local tax office - it is about a 100 yards away!

Or I could input the 'three-digit office code' - hello! I'm trying to find its address, why would I know its office code - surely an internal numbering system?

I then spent around 10 minutes trawling the site and putting various term into the site's search box, including "Gilbridge House, High Street West, Sunderland" - the office's address minus the post code. As this gave only one return [apparently the office is to be closed in the near future] I assumed that the full postal address was not on the site. So I went downstairs and looked it up in the telephone directory ... and the plot thickened.

I looked up 'Inland Revenue' - and the entry [on page 459] referred me to 'Government Offices'. The entry for 'Government Offices' referred readers 'Inland Revenue' on page 459 ! So I tried 'tax' ... nothing.

Despite the fact that I could have actually have walked to the office and handed over the letter in the time it had taken me to find the address [no comments on global warming, health etc please] this had become a personal challenge. So it was back to my files to find my last P60 [it's the tax form that tells you how much you have paid in the previous year] - and low and behold, it included a three digit number under 'HM Revenue and Customs Office name'.

Hallelujah - searching on that number gave me the address I was after [in case you are thinking in the same way as me, I did try the Yellow Pages for both 'HM Revenue and Customs' and 'Revenue and Customs' ... nothing].

So if you are out there and you want to know the post code of the Sunderland tax office on High Street West it is ... SR1 3HL [I must remember to check if this page comes up in a Google search for the address in the future].

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