They say, file your tax return online. It's much quicker than sending it by post.
Nothing to do with it saving the Inland Revenue a fortune: paper (I estimate 16p for the return itself, plus about £15.60 for the guidence notes), envelopes (~4p), postage (~1.30p), ink, staples, gum on the envelopes (God knows), one half-wit clerk to do the filing (~£25,000pa).
But filling it in online? I don't know. You can't be asking me to do anything too complicated just now; my brain's not up to it. Unless, of course, chocolate is involved.
With that in mind, I considered making them an offer: how about a large bar of Dairy Milk Turkish Delight, (approximate value £1.20), in exchange for the IR paper mountain? But then I remembered that the revenue man missed out on both the generosity and humour genes at conception; I thought I'd better just do it on paper after all.
It was the baby who caused my downfall (she, and my tendancy to leave everything until the last minute). Actually, it wasn't the baby, but all the blood that she vomited after swallowing the thing that she swallowed.
'What did she swallow?' the doctors asked. 'Well, if I'd seen it, I wouldn't have let her put it in her mouth...would I?' So, the last two days have been spent trying to find out what it was. We've been in two ambulances (one with flashing lights), two hospitals, seen seven nurses, three x-ray technicians, four paramedics (one of them rather dishy - Hi, Steve), two doctors, three consultants, and a registrar. We also had one dreadful, dreadful, night on the paediartic ward of UNNAMED hospital. And the baby's mystery object was...
...I'm still watching the nappies.
Once we got home on Friday I sat contemplating the experience. The NHS might be on its knees, I thought, but the people were fantastic and I could not fault the care she received. The paperwork and bureaucracy, on the other hand, rivalled that of the Revenue.
Some quick calculations confirmed that I had no hope of getting my return in on time (okay, so who's idea was it to have the deadline on a Sunday? I just bet they'll get in on Monday morning, pick up everything that arrived during the weekend (on time), and then divert Monday's post into the 'TO BE FINED' tray).
Realising how much more Dairy Milk I could buy with my £100-fine money, I decided to do it online.
So, I logged on. Agreed to the Terms and Conditions (having read them carefully, of course). Registered. And received an email that said:
Thank you for enrolling for the Self Assessment Online service through the Government Gateway. Within 7 days we will send you an Activation PIN through the post.
This was some hours ago, but I remain truly speechless...