by Gina Tonic
Some days at work I feel that I move mountains and can feel a great sense of achievement. Other days I feel like I have been given the run around. Unfortunately, today was the latter.
Straight to the top of the urgent pile
An email arrived in my inbox from the HR Director with URGENT ACTION REQUIRED in the subject box. So, ignoring the other pretty urgent items in my inbox I opened the email. It transpired that one of our most senior assignees leading a high-profile project was unhappy with the Global Mobility team and the tax service provider and so had escalated an issue directly to the HR Director. Apparently, he had received notification from HMRC to confirm he had a tax refund £765.84. He wanted to know why he hadn’t been notified of this from the tax service provider and why the Global Mobility team hadn’t ensured the refund was actioned quickly.
Now I don’t have an issue with a query like this, we get all sorts of tax queries throughout the year directly from assignees, but I do have a problem with it being escalated without knowing about an issue first.
Also, having just gone through the tax equalisation reconciliation process I was surprised his name hadn’t featured on any of those lists. I don’t think I am the only Global Mobility Manager who has a Top 10 list of certain assignee names in their head to always keep an eye out for and ensure everything goes smoothly. I scrambled into our systems and double checked I hadn’t missed anything. Nope nothing appeared. So, I rang the tax service provider and asked them to look into his record to see whether a refund was due for 2016/17. There was nothing outstanding. Well there must be something. How about 2015/16 or 2014/15? Still nothing showing outstanding on their records.
Something isn’t adding up.
Then the penny dropped……… but I still had to deal with the issue in the politest and most professional way possible… of course.
I understand that you have received notification from HMRC that you are due a refund. We are unable to track this from our records. Please could you send me a copy of the notification so that I can investigate further with the tax service provider and HMRC.
Within a few minutes a forwarded email arrived with a short sharp comment, ‘See below’.
Your Annual Tax Return Calculation
Unique Reference No: 54894745248
Amount: 765.84 GBP in credit
Following a review of your previous years tax payments we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 765.84 GBP
Please click the link below in order to complete your tax refund request on our website.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will usually send repayments within 2 weeks, but it may take longer in some cases.
You should wait 4 weeks after making an online claim and 6 weeks after making a postal claim before contacting HMRC about the payment.
Why you got this email?
You are registered with a Government Gateway account at the HM Revenue and Customs website.
To opt-out of any further notification please log-in to your account and revise your notification settings.
The wording and formatting wasn’t that obvious, but I still had my suspicions. There was no reference to the tax year and as far as I was aware HMRC don’t send out notifications via email. They still use good old fashioned letters. I looked at the sender information which read:
From: “email@example.com“ <firstname.lastname@example.org>
That’s all I needed to know to confirm I didn’t need to investigate any further. (Although, just to be sure, I did google HMRC refund hoax and found an exact copy of the same email on the HMRC website in the ‘Tax rebate and refunds scam’ section as well as confirmation, for future reference, that they do not send refund notifications by email.)
Although it clearly wasn’t a Global Mobility error in any way, I did need to ensure that the assignee did not click on the ‘Get Started’ link and I also wanted to highlight that my team and the tax service provider were unnecessarily escalated. So, here’s how my reply to the assignee, with the HR Director in copy, went:
Thank you for forwarding your email. I have looked into this and can confirm that no refund is currently due. The email is a scam email and should be deleted. Please ensure you do not click on the ‘Get Started’ link. If you have, please contact IT support.
Unsurprisingly, I did not get a thank you for my time spent looking into this and I didn’t get an apology for the escalation and finger pointing about my team and the tax service provider. But for now, I have claimed the moral high ground.
*names have been changed to protect the innocent.