Let me apologise in advance for the length of this post. Believe me if it was a full transcript it would be a lot longer!
I only started contracting last November and I'm already seeing some serious issues with my umbrella company around areas of tax withholding and expenses that have left me wondering if I'm looking at a bad time with the tax man down the road. On top of that I'm getting some rather poor customer service from the person who is supposed to be my handler with the organisation and they have acknowledged some screw-ups with the way my time sheets have been recorded in the pay tracker.
I signed up with these guys because they've received loads of awards, included one for best umbrella for years running from this very site, but the nature and number of these problems is so great that I have to conclude one of the following:
A) many people don't look closely at their numbers and are happy just to get paid on time
B) I'm fantastically unlucky in contracting
C) my previous 25 years of experience with HR and payroll departments in the public and private sector was an amazing stroke of good luck.
Initially the problem was my tax code changing. This didn't get flagged up to me in advance like a normal HR/payroll department would and I had to sort it out myself with HMRC because that's apparently not one of their functions. I suspect HMRC only changed it in the first place because of something the umbrella did as they seemed to think I was going to make over £100k in the current fiscal year ending April, but umbrella says they just blindly apply whatever tax code is sent to them.
The correction was to have resulted in a tax rebate of some kind, but after multiple assurances I'd get this paid Friday and much obstruction stating they couldn't estimate it in advance (again, unlike any company payroll department I've ever dealt with), it hasn't appeared. Additionally I've (belatedly) downloaded my payslips and see stuff that makes no sense, primarily around expenses, which has me concerned.
I've been claiming travel expenses for a weekly underground ticket and the occasional one-way train ticket from my partner's place as they've advised I could. After reading here about the impending end of these expenses in April and the disallowance of said expenses when you're going to only one site in a tax year I thought I'd get some reassurance so I don't end up paying this back. I was told, no, that wouldn't be a problem.
I looked at my old payslips and the very first has not only expenses of £100.73 (I submitted £18.30), but only £2.60 of tax withheld. Now when I first got paid and the amount was substantially higher than expected I called them and asked "did they get my tax code wrong?" I was told there was a rebate because I overpaid in the course of the year. I would naturally have thought a rebate to appear as a separate line item in the payslip, so now I'm really wondering what is going on here.
So I have sent a message saying my confidence in them is very low (actual words "I don't think you guys know what the hell you're doing") and asked for someone to call and clarify things for me (actual words "someone had better contact me and explain what the hell is going on").
I'm just wanting to know if my experience is unusual and if I have a big problem looming with HMRC, because I think by April I would have racked up more than £100 in expenses, but any auditor would rightly look and say "Okay, you're getting paid £18/week most of the time, but in your first payslip it's £100.73 and the subsequent two is nothing, so what are you trying to pull here?" - especially when my receipts won't match that. Should I run screaming while I still can and can this be fixed?