HAVING paid too much tax in the last financial year, I tried to ring HMRC to make a claim.

After answering security questions and listening to a recorded voice for over five minutes, the recorded voice told me they couldn’t accept my call so “goodbye” and the line went dead.

Fast forward to July (more than two months after I was due the refund) and my call was answered (after being on the phone for over ten minutes). They kindly agreed I was due a refund and they would send me a letter.

The letter arrived telling me they would send a cheque in about two months. This takes us to August/September. But wait, the letter also says I can claim online and I should have the cheque within five working days, and it gives me the website to access.

So I diligently spent over an hour accessing the government gateway, getting an access code, answering yet more security questions, until I fell at the final hurdle – they couldn’t verify me because of a lack of information.

Undaunted, I tried twice more, just to get the same result. In desperation I rang HMRC again (another ten minutes I’ll never get back) to see if we could sort it out. Alas, HMRC can’t understand why I can’t claim online, but, not to worry, they’ll send a cheque in about two months!

By my reckoning, HMRC will have held onto my refund for four to five months by the time I receive it, but they won’t be reimbursing me for any interest they, not I, have accrued.

I realise my meagre refund won’t save the country’s economy, but if they are doing the same thing for everyone else this seems like a very lucrative delaying tactic. Or am I just being cynical?

G Nixon, Darlington