Tax is Taxing (More austerity measures & geekery)

Even if the government try their damndest to tell us otherwise, they are, quite frankly, wrong!.  Tax is Taxing, in fact, it's a right royal pain in the harris!  

It appears to the man on the Clapham omnibus, the man on the number 10 bus, the layman, Joe & Joanna Public or whoever you wish to generalise the tax paying nation of britain as, that the key problem with Tax paying/collection is it's complexity.  If you want everyone to pay a bill, make it simple and they'll pay it. Make it complicated and they might pay it, but you might not be able to tell if they did or they didn't without spending a huge amount of time (and time is money) trying to figure out what they actually did.

Of course, historically, there may well be a very good reason for the Tax system being so insanely complicated that it's becoming unmanageable. After all, I have no doubt there have been plenty of high earning ministers who are happy to hang on to their income rather than contribute to the public coffers and interestingly it's not illegal to avoid paying tax, its only illegal not to pay tax should you be supposed to do so. Not much of a loophole there then!

I hate the system because of it's complexity, but right now, I love the system because of it's complexity. It's become apparent that the government have done something wrong with the way they've been allocating Tax codes over the past 2 years. I've had a look at my previous payslips and P60's and guess what?...   Sure enough I've had a different tax code every year for the past three years which is interesting when you consider that my job hasn't changed and neither has my salary during that period.

Something is amiss.

As a result, I've spent some time trawling through the HM Revenue & Customs documentation here and having run some numbers through the Tax calculator here, it seems I'm owed some money back. WooHoo!!!  A call the to the revenue man and if all is well, a cheque will be in the post. I've calculated a saving of around £400.  If I can keep up this level of income I could give up the day job.... oh... hang on... that's not quite how it works is it?

Before I rush off looking for interesting and inventive ways to spend this new found wealth, I think we're long overdue a bit of the old geek talk that is really what I started all this blogging for in the first place. So there's two particular items I'd like to draw your attention to.

Quora and Kindle. I know, it sounds like I'm talking some foreign language and there's a whole other post waiting to be written about product naming conventions, but for the time being I can assure you that I'm still using english...mostly.

I'm sure an awful lot of you will have heard of a Kindle by now. It's the "e-reader" that sell. If you're still lost, think of an iPod for books and if you still haven't got it, it's like a book that's connected to the Internet so that you can change the contents of it into any book that's available. 

Mrs Ball senior had her birthday in November and Mrs G and I got her a Kindle which hopefully she's now downloading books onto and reading them like a good 'un. I've installed the Kindle software on the iPad too, and in fact, it's won me over. Better than iBooks (keep trying Apple) just because of it's synchronisation facilities. I can read a few pages on my phone while I'm sat on the bus, and then when I get home I can pick up my iPad and open the same book at the exact spot I'd reached while I was on the bus, thanks to the "whispersync" technology that they've deployed.  It also means if I sat in front of my Mac (or PC for those that still haven't figured out that old problem) I can do exactly the same. It's clever stuff.

This leads me onto another quick VAT wheeze.... books. I love em, what with them being VAT free and full of interesting things to read and all. So I'm not happy that for some insane reason, digital editions of books have VAT applied to them... I mean "How the Flaming Fudge did that happen!!??".  However, there is a wealth of old books that are available for free on the kindle (other devices are available and are very good too). Keep your eyes peeled for the classics if you're that way inclined.

One feature of the actual kindle as opposed to the software versions that can be downloaded onto all the other hardware platforms, is the text to speech facility. On a real kindle, it's an awesome addition making the need to purchase audio books (for those to lazy to read, or wishing to look cool on the tube with headphones and not a book) irrelevant. Sadly this functionality doesn't work on the other devices as yet, but I'm sure it'll come eventually. Overall, my opinion of Kindle-ing (I'm not sure that's a real word, but it's 'coming to a dictionary near you' soon no doubt) is "Highly Recommended", especially with this: The Hanging Shed, which was a joyous little read and the first of many that I'll be reading via this technology.

Now, to Quora which is an online knowledge market. (It's a what-now? -Ed).

The word itself is another "non-word" (see Google or Yahoo) which has been canibalised from words such as "Quorum" (the number of members of a group or organization required to be present to transact business legally, usually a majority or a particularly chosen group), "Quor" - (of which) and probably a dash of "Enquire" - (to seek information by questioning). What it is, is a website for you to ask questions:

It's a sort of cross between "Twitter" and "Yahoo Answers" and to be honest, the best way for you to understand it, is to go and use it. It's organised into groups and people, and if you know the answer to a question posted there, then feel free to share the answer. This is, after all how we move the wealth of human knowledge forward.  

Having said that, if you answer questions that you don't know the answer too, it's also how we can move the wealth of human knowledge backwards as well. Case in point: - Nuff Said.

And there it is for today. Onwards and upwards into more starfleetedness. I can only hope that reports like this prove to be true for all of us. I'm not holding my breath.

Take care and chin up.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous