If you’re trying to get hold of the taxman, but failing, you’re probably not alone. HMRC customer service has come under a great deal of scrutiny recently. And your accountant may be having exactly the same difficulties as you.
We’re all used to battling with call centres, whether we’re trying to upgrade a phone, pay an outstanding bill or complain about poor service. When our query or request is about tax, however, we understandably get a little more edgy. If we can’t speak to a representative of HMRC, it’s often impossible to resolve problems, causing a lot of difficulty for both businesses and individuals.
A recent report by parliamentarians on the Commons Public Accounts Committee not only criticised the tax office for failing to prosecute large-scale evaders, but it also highlighted the fact that half the calls to HMRC were being left unanswered. Last year, the Revenue managed to pick up over 72% of the incoming phone traffic, but this had dropped to a miserable 50% in the first half of 2015.
Spokesmen for HMRC have pointed out that some 3,000 new staff have been hired and that the service issues have not affected the organisation’s ability to collect tax, although doubts clearly still remain among individual taxpayers, the business community and their accountants. The trade union representing the civil servants at HMRC says the equivalent of 11,000 full-time jobs have actually been lost since 2010.
You might think that your accountant has a magical hotline to the Revenue, but many professional advisers are, in fact, experiencing exactly the same difficulties as their clients.
It is ironic that while HMRC are after tax avoiders, they spend half their time avoiding tax payers!