Know the one about Wagner and the wrong tax code?

Much like the mysterious knight, I usually try to keep my everyday life a mystery 😉 but Wagner uncharacteristically came to the rescue this time and I can file this moaning session under “musically related” (if tenuously so). If you want to skip it I’ll leave you with the porcelain swan sleigh. Click on it for a version of the Lohengrin act I prelude conducted by a chap whose surname translates to fisherman.

Fixing a bad tax code in 7 easy phone calls

Last week I was in training so only got to properly be in the office on Saturday afternoon by which time Mo-Fri 9 to 5-ers had long descended into a stupor thanks to the poison of their choice. But the payslips were in and I was also in – in for a surprise. You know payslip surprises are rarely happy. This was at least £300 less than I’d have liked or indeed afforded. I’m usually known to procrastinate these things but I thought I’d make good this time. I got up bright and early today (Monday) morning and called payroll:


(1) Person on other end can’t hear you so she hangs up.

(2) Person on other end can’t hear you so he hangs up.


(3) Person on other end can finally hear you and takes your call. You state the purpose of your call and she transfers you. After 10min on hold to muzak Lohengrin, you hang up because hello phone charges, especially when you have been taxed to death this month, no matter how much you might think it’s amusing to hear Wagner whilst on hold (last time you called it was still Eine kleine Nachtmusik. You idly wonder who’s in charge of these changes. Your local tube stop also uses classical music habitually – often Wagner – to fend off youth gangs. Who said classical music/opera wasn’t relevant?!).


(4) Person on the other end can hear you but tells you nobody can deal with your problem at this time but you can’t understand the reason because her Irish brogue is heavy to your ears (yes, the payroll office is in a different country). She asks for your phone number so somebody can return your call at a later time. You ask when it would be good to call back. She says 12pm.


(5) Person on the other end can hear you and tells you nobody can deal with your problem right now as the swans people he would tranfer you to are on Lunch Break. He asks for your phone number so somebody can return your call at a later time. You ask when it would be good to call back. He says 13:30.


(6) Person on other end can hear you fine and takes your call. You state the purpose of your call and she transfers you. A bit more Lohengrin and somebody picks up within the minute. You tell him your problem and he gives you the tax office number. You idly consider the people who had initially taken the call could have had that number handy, since you already told them it was a tax code problem. But then you wouldn’t have had your morning Lohengrin.

(7) You call the tax office number. At first a pre-recorded voice explains in short bus slow monotone what the purpose of the tax office is and how you can access it online. But you don’t want to access it online, you want to report your problem to a real person (failing that, a kindly swan) in hopes of it being solved as soon as possible.

The monotone finally gives you the option of stating your problem to a robot. The robot starts by relaying the same information the monotone just gave you. You shout abuse at a robot recording and feel funny doing so. The robot continues undeterred and at long last, it asks for sensitive information, plus your old address you can’t remember anymore, which you state. You fear it won’t understand your last name because robots always fail to pronounce it. But the robot surprises by calmly thanking you and transfers you to a human (possibly holding a swan).

The human asks for the same information you just gave the robot and informs you they still have your old address which you can’t remember any longer because you have not lived there since the start of the current decade. You make an effort and manage to confirm part of that address (which was, incidentally, very close to a canal often favoured by swans) and he believes it’s really you. He proceeds to change it to the new address (no swans in the immediate vicinity).

“Scheming Telramund, Lord of Payroll, changed my tax code and I have become destitute. Help me, mysterious tax knight!

He then asks you for the purporse of your call. He checks and confirms that you have been put on the wrong tax code. He also confirms this is a common mistake, because your workplace insists on considering bank (paid overtime) a second job (you work for the same employer doing the exact same thing as you “normally” would, in the exact same location – but hey). He asks how much you get paid every month. You stare in gentle puzzlement at your last two payslips and there is a short debate on what that actually means – gross pay? taxable pay? – because due to shift work you are not paid the exact same amount every month. You hope your answer won’t mean you get put on yet another faulty code (upon checking your payslips, you have identified 4 different tax codes used in the past 12 months – have you been overpaid? underpaid? …complete mystery).

He finds the most familiar correct code and changes it back. You want to know when you can expect a refund. He tells you that you won’t get a refund per se, rather you will be taxed less on your next paydate, which is one month away but right now feels well into the next year. You ask whether there is a possibility that due to occasionally doing bank this mistake could happen again. He confirms it could, as the names of the trusts change yearly – which sounds curious and a bit a propos of nothing but then Lohengrin is supposed to keep things mysterious – and that they do not have a way of preventing this mistake from happening (understandably so, it’s a(n) impenetrable fortress payroll mistake). He confirms that the only way to deal with it if it happens again is to call them and get taxed less on the next paydate. You thank him hoping he did indeed switch you to the right tax code and nothing similar will happen between now and 23 November. Phone call time: 14min.

Dowside: you now feel apprehensive about ever doing bank again. You also wonder how you’re going to juggle expenses in the new month.

Upside: since you’ve already spent about half an hour on the phone, you make one last call – to your local opera house with a new staging idea for Lohengrin.


About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on October 24, 2016, in other, rants, romantic opera and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Everybody thinks Franz Kafka is patron saint of the Tax Department, but it’s really Samuel Beckett.

  2. oh man, hope you are managing ok in nov! you mean they can just overtax you by mistake and wont refund?? at least in the US they tax you based on your overall annual income range so you do get refund at the end of the year if overtaxed

    • ps- but that front foto swan totaaly got me thinking of that last image.. surely your sneaky way to shove in a JK’s pix 😉

    • there would be a roundabout refund, as in they will tax me so that the sum is made up at the next paycheck. That’s the theory and in fact it has happened before (when I started working they overtaxed me for like 3 months and then sort of spontaneously (I didn’t complain as I didn’t know any better) realised their mistake and I got a way larger paycheck in the new year.

      but yes, the stupid payroll can overtax you and you don’t know until it’s too late. They mix up these tax codes. Last January we had a similar issue, but because EVERYBODY was overtaxed, we actually got our “refund” (and then it was a refund) within two weeks (after loud complaints – phonecalls, emails – from a bunch of us). So I know it can be done, they just obviously don’t want to do it for single cases = EVIL.

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