HMRC lost £65 I paid Post Office for my NI stamp

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Our financial investigator Jessica Gorst-Williams comes to the rescue.

Just prior to going on holiday, I asked my daughter, who is 17, to go to the Post Office and make a payment to HMRC for my self-employment Class 2 National Insurance contributions with a payment slip and a cheque. As the bill in hand related only to the period 9/10/2011 to 07/04/2012 and was for £65 I made the cheque and the payslip out for £130 so I would also settle the current period. On my return from holiday I was trying to file the paperwork when I realised that the stamp and the Post Office receipt refer only to £65. What should I do now? BA Yorkshire

Your daughter had already left the Post Office by the time the receipt for the second payment had been processed. Later the Post Office checked with HMRC’s bank which confirmed that both payments had indeed been credited to the tax office. HMRC told you it had not been able to locate the second amount and, by the time you wrote to me, was demanding the payment again.

After my persistently nudging HMRC, it located the money and wrote to you saying that it was sorry this had taken so long. At my suggestion it promised £30 for goodwill. However, this money did not arrive when expected and I had to remind HMRC about it some weeks later. Now it has sent £40, an amount that factors in the failure to send you this gesture earlier.

Although you had promised to let me know when you received the gesture of goodwill, I did not hear back from you. At last I caught up with you and it transpired the money has been paid.

You felt there was another outstanding issue with the Post Office but I dissuaded you from pursuing what I saw to be a petty issue.

Along the way I had been hampered by the fact that you did not provide a landline number and the mobile one you gave me was never answered and is designed not to accept messages. In the end I managed, with difficulty, to trace a work number for you via the internet.

To complain about HMRC, first speak to the relevant tax office. Failing that, follow the internal complaints procedure as explained at hmrc.gov.uk/complaints-appeals/how-to-complain.htm.

Citizens Advice should be able to assist if required. Subject to the gamut of the complaints procedure having been gone through, there is an adjudicator contactable via 0300 057 1111 and www.adjudicatorsoffice.gov.uk.

= Insurer puts blame on ‘system issues’ =

Eight months ago I reinvested a further £1,500 into my Aviva Balanced Managed NU life fund which should have increased my existing units. However, despite asking, I have had no acknowledgement of this investment or the state of my fund . DB Berkshire

Aviva (LSE: AV.L - news) says that it has recently been experiencing technical difficulties that thwarted the application of this investment into your policy. It says you will not be disadvantaged by this. The problems also delayed your annual statement. The insurer blamed “human error” for the fact that this was not adequately explained to you at the time. A cheque for £50 was promised by way of apology and a letter. However, 12 days after I had been told it had been posted it turned out it had not been at all.

I am assured the “system issues” are now resolved. The final shortcoming shows the human department still has room for improvement.

* Because of the volume of mail received, it is not possible to respond to every letter and correspondence cannot be entered into. Please do not send original documents or stamped and addressed envelopes. Responsibility, legal or otherwise, for answers given cannot be accepted. Cases currently with an ombudsman, going through a court of law or sent to other columns will not be considered. In addition Jessica cannot take up issues when the writer is a third party, other than in exceptional circumstances. Jessica cannot respond to emails.

Please address letters to: Jessica, Your Money, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT. A full postal address, a signature and daytime telephone number are needed.