The Inland Revenue, now known as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has got to be near the top of the pack when it comes to sheer utter uselessness.
If, say you earn a few pounds doing something else outside your main job then you must declare that income. Fair enough, but the procedure features that mind bogglingly unnecessary complexity that only a huge public sector body with no concern for time, results or value for money could come up with.
First of all you must find out your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). Phoning the number given on HMRC website might seem like a good idea for the first 15 minutes or so whilst you listen to the irritating music occasionally interrupted by a voice telling you how they are receiving an unusually large number of calls at the moment (you will hear this claim whether you phone at 8 am or 3pm on June 5th or Jan 12th). When you do finally get through, you will be told that your UTR cannot be given over the phone (even if you know the answer to every possible security question about yourself), nor can it be emailed to you.
No, no Sir- the UTR must be sent to you by post and this will take up to ten working days! At this point you may be tempted to point out that Amazon could deliver you any one of 5 million items tomorrow if you asked them to, but remember you are not dealing with a private company concerned with their customers' satisfaction. HMRC staff know perfectly well that they will not go out of business no matter how badly they perform.
When your UTR arrives (and it really does take them a fortnight to get it to you), you will rush to your computer, with all the excitement and expectation of a child opening their Christmas presents. After you type it in, you will then be given a 12 digit 'User id' which you must note down as you will need it next time you log in.
(You may be tempted to complain that 12 digits could specify every person on Earth 10 times over, and you have just waited two weeks for your supposedly unique reference number, but don't spoil the moment. You are making good progress and will soon be declaring your hard earned pennies in order to pay your tax to enable some nice Afghan lady to live in a £3 million Kensington home.)
Oh dear! After entering your postcode, you will discover that you need an 'Activation Code' in order to progress further, which of course can only be sent to you in the mail and will take... etc. Now is the time to put your head in your hands and weep. (Don't worry, the nice Afghan lady should be ok).
HMRC is the same organisation that lost the records of 25 million people in 2007 and paid out over a billion pounds in tax credits by mistake. Who better to be put in charge of Customs and Excise with the duty of keeping our borders secure and preventing smuggling?