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Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.
Monday, 29 June 2009
The American Way
Patrick Collinson of The Guardian tells us how the IRS (the US version of HMRC) run their call centres:
"A baffled reader this week asked for help filling in tax forms for the US Inland Revenue Service. Not being familiar with apostilles, notarizing and (fortunately, I feel) alien spouses, I was as baffled as him by the baroque language. The form is subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, but in a triumph for bureaucracy you find separate information about this … on another piece of paperwork.
I gingerly rang the IRS helpline in Philadelphia. In the city of brotherly love, things started to improve. The helpline is staffed 20 hours a day, compared with HMRC's 12 hours a day.
My call was answered after just a few rings. And the (very helpful) individual who answered the phone immediately gave me his name and unique identification number.
The Americans could learn a thing or two from us about the use of plain English, but can teach us about running a call centre."
Whilst keeping HMRC call centres open for longer would cost more money, something which the government has run out of, I don't see why call centre staff cannot give taxpayers (sorry, "customers") a unique identification number.
Why can't that be done?
Tax does have to be taxing.
Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.
Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies
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