HMRC’s customer service continues to be appalling

HMRC’s customer service continues to be appalling. It was recently announced that it had improved its telephone service and increased its call answering from 1 in 2 calls to 3 in 4 calls. Any large company that failed to answer 25% of its customers calls let alone 50% would be severely critised in the media.

There are some departments of HMRC that taxpayers can never get to talk to. For example an automated message from the department dealing with Employer PAYE problems merely tells callers it is too busy to deal with their enquiries and then the line is disconnected. Sometimes callers ringing this department get an automated service and are invited to make selections. After selecting several options, they get the same message that HMRC is too busy and the line is disconnected.

For callers that do get through, HMRC’s 0845 telephone numbers are expensive, very expensive if called from a mobile phone which is the only telephone some households have nowadays.

Waiting on the telephone for HMRC operator to be available can take as long as 50 mins! That is quite unacceptable.

Writing a letter to HMRC is often quite pointless. Some are not answered at all. Some take many months.

HMRC are issuing demands for tax and notices changing PAYE Code numbers all the time.

People must be able to contact HMRC when they feel that they are paying too much tax, or they will become disillusioned with the tax system. Some may then look for ways to avoid tax in unsophisticated ways. They do not need to be Jimmy Carr to be able to find ways of reducing the tax they pay! Others will flood their MP’s with complaints.

Unfortunately it can only get worse. HMRC are moving to a new system of deducting tax under PAYE from employees wages and salaries. Within a few years HMRC will partly control the net pay that employees receive. If HMRC get this wrong and people cannot contact them to get it put right then MP’s, Consumer Groups, Ombudsmen, and the HMRC Adjudicator, will be swamped by letters, emails and telephone calls asking for help.

 Alex Byrne, Director


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