Maybe it was all the talk of Hysteria from Siberia or The Beast from the East but it made Finance Bill a little more distracted than usual.
Although never particularly detail-oriented, he nonetheless always acts with absolute conviction – regardless of whether he actually knows what he’s doing, or even if it’s right.
So, when he heard of new guidance from HMRC about taking reasonable care, he embraced it with his usual overly-enthusiastic gusto, and pretty much applied it to every area of his life. Better safe than sorry, eh?
As he was going to be working from home for a few days, the first thing he needed was an extra-comfy chair, lots of cushions and a supportive back rest. At long last he was able to use his Secret Santa present – a pressure-activated massager that gave messages of encouragement every time you shifted against it, such as “You are a tiger!” and “Whatever anyone else ever tells you, accountants are fabulous. No, really.”
His laptop was fully charged, his therapeutic wrist support was in place; Wi-Fi signal at full strength, and firewalls, antivirus, and malicious threat software all ready to go. He had spare spare batteries for his calculator and his compendium of crayons was neatly lined up in colour order alongside his new school maths set. As his old mentor used to tell him, you can always rely on someone with a protractor and pair of compasses, but beware those who chew their pencils…
Efficient? He was going to be unstoppable. He even had a cup of freshly-poured herbal tea sat on his desk to help him stay hydrated (and not too hot, of course – ever since the last time when he burnt his lips and short-circuited the keyboard with a spray of Wong Lo Kat).
Nothing beats the feeling of being fully prepared. Even the background music was just right; conducive to creating a zen-like atmosphere and, importantly, not too loud. Despite having a vast and eclectic LP collection, Finance Bill had very fixed ideas on what qualified as work music and what he liked to call ‘Helloooow, sociable smooth’. Thrash metal was definitely not allowed (danger of sudden movements, moshing and breakages), and nor was anything by Anthrax (pathogenic reasons and highly contagious). The New Seekers were also off the playlist (due to danger of DVT from not moving at all).
Finally, he made sure the room was well-aired but warm (by having his convection heater outside the open window), and ensured that the lighting wasn’t too bright, but more ambient to aid concentration and remind him of his favourite jazz club near Whitehall, Dim.
Then, just as he was about to finally settle down to start some work, he decided to make one last trip to the kitchen to check he hadn’t left any taps dripping, slipped on the HMRC Reasonable Care booklet that was lying on the floor and is now in traction in The John Radcliffe Hospital. So much for better safe than sorry.
Still, it could have been worse; it could have been his Tom Petty Free Fallin’ single that he’d trodden on.
For the record (no pun intended), HMRC has published new guidance on how to take reasonable care when submitting tax returns and other documents to them, and what happens if you don’t (including details of penalties).
Coincidentally, it’s entitled ‘Reasonable care: tax returns and other documents’ and is the first time HMRC has made all care advice available to access from one location (on GOV.UK) instead of across various compliance manuals. Essentially, it gives advice on "doing everything you can to make sure the tax returns and other documents you send [to HMRC] are accurate.”
In case you were wondering how Finance Bill is doing, there was a silver lining. Kind of.
Now that all the snow has melted, he is starting to get a few more visitors; yet keeps telling them that everything’s up in the air and he’s completely plastered.
Until next month...