HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
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, 11 July 2011

Can't Get No Satisfaction

ICAS (the Scottish professional body of chartered accountants) last week published results of its survey of its members, that shows that SMEs are receiving a poor service from HMRC.

The survey findings highlighted that local compliance offices, which handle the tax affairs of small businesses, were rated as poor or very poor by 65% of the respondents.

Elspeth Orcharton, Assistant Director of Tax at ICAS, said:

"The UK’s largest businesses are given good service through customer relationship managers in HMRC’s large business services department, created in 2007. However, the demand this has placed on resources has resulted in poorer services for the majority of smaller businesses.

HMRC’s operating and staffing systems are simply inadequate to support compliance with what has become one of the most complex self-assessed tax systems in the world.

Unaddressed this will become a threat to public finances and closing the tax gap.

Almost half the members who responded were happy with the technical skills of HMRC staff handling phone calls, once they had found someone with suitable knowledge, but getting to speak to such a person remains a problem. HMRC’s contact and management systems need to be fit for purpose so that people don’t feel they are being passed from pillar to post.

The HMRC department responsible for collecting tax payments, debt recovery and ‘time to pay’ arrangements also scored low in the survey. The debt management and banking division saw 60% of respondents rating it poor or very poor.

The survey results highlight that HMRC’s debt management processes are disjointed.

"Aggressive collection tactics are too often used to pursue tax not actually due, and communications between the different parts of HMRC need to be improved."

ICAS points out that the disappointing figures reflect the difficulties met by experienced accountants and tax professionals, raising even wider concerns about the impact on unrepresented taxpayers lacking equivalent expertise.

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  1. Never mind, HMRC have approx. 360 individuals and teams nominated for the People Awards!
    That's about 0.5% I think, you would have thought a few more would have been "volunteered".
    The nominations have been published and I am sure available under FOI, and it would be FOI surely?
    LOL :D

  2. Where is Stew G when you need him most?

    Try and explain this one as a problem caused by Ken.

    What is it with you anyhow, small man syndrome?
    Or just a wee bit of the green eyed monster?

  3. I seem to remember an old saying about down the pan (W.C.) which seems to sum up HMRC and its supporters.

  4. Systemic failings?

    When you remove, by accident or design, controls which have served well for decades, then you reap the benefit.
    Someone took their eye off the ball big time and allowed HMRC to run itself, big mistake.
    How much longer will this saga run though?

  5. So, HMRC performance isn't so good for the customers as well as the staff.
    This is feedback no matter how you talk it up or try to spin your way out.
    It would be a step in the right direction for a senior player from HMRC to grasp this poisonous chalice once and for all and shake the holy feck out of this organisation!
    He or she might just carry the workers with them.

  6. As an HMRC debt collector, I agree totally with the findings re our disjointed processes. It is almost impossible, in many cases, to find out if the debt I am being asked to collect is, in fact due. I am forced to use the same public telephone number taxpayers use, there is no direct line for staff members trying to resolve a problem on the doorstep,huge tranches of debt are hived off to DCAs at a moments notice,resulting in taxpayers being contacted by multiple agencies for the same debt. I am being ordered to levy (list goods for removal) in every possible case,and constantly told that the consequences of this - businesses closing, staff on the dole is " not our problem".

  7. WTF is going on inside HMRC?
    Has the organisation taken leave of its senses?
    Hello out there, wakey, wakey, is this what is required from HMRC, doubtful, lets get them back in line pronto.
    Get someone in there to support the staff and some of the managers and get things moving.

  8. "I am being ordered to levy (list goods for removal) in every possible case,and constantly told that the consequences of this - businesses closing, staff on the dole is " not our problem".

    Until you come up against someone who takes exception to being chased for money not owed and makes it your problem.

  9. @7.30.

    You hero. Obviously still entertaining David vs Goliath fantasies. Whatcha gonna do?? Write to your MP?

  10. @01:22

    Thinking about work at that time of the morning. I would seek help if I where you.

  11. 11/07 18:58,

    HMRC operations aren't really my thing, more neo-liberal misinformation about avoidance, so I tend to only comment on Ken's posts about the former when he makes an absolute, obvious howler (which, I have to admit, are getting rarer).

    Now, if you really think you can sensibly argue against my arguments about schemes intended to produce tax advantages not intended by Parliament (to use the long-winded description to avoid the usual non-sensical straw man arguments), I'm always (real-life permitting) happy to engage. In the meantime I'll continue to ignore crude personal insults.

    Stew G

  12. Stew G

    How do we know that these schemes aren't being used as parliament intended?

    After all don't you have to have the sort of money a millionaire cabinet minister might have to make the most of these schemes?

  13. 1850,

    Sorry, I've just re-read your question and I now realise that you did mean exactly the question as written.

    This is very much like the point I've often tried to articulate. While I think it unlikely that very many tax law loopholes are deliberately left open because MPs/Ministers wish to exploit them in their own tax affairs, it is a fact that they are heavily lobbied by businesses and individuals who wish to see loopholes remain open.

    MPs/Ministers are undoubtedly influenced by this and yes, it could therefore perhaps be said that they sometimes intend these schemes to work. However I think, perhaps more significantly, a lack of understanding among politicians is to blame (again it's cock-up rather than conspiracy), partly because of the complexity of the tax system, but also because lobbyists will present heavily spun versions of why a particular loophole should exist ("e.g. changing W will destroy X part of the economy; Y exemption will help small businesses but not those in Z circumstances" - lo and behold, some in Z circumstances miraculously find a way to benefit too...).

    Both of these are troubling. They are also part of the reason why I am staggered that Ken and others are so keen to argue that schemes intended to produce tax advantages not intended by Parliament are not a problem and/or should not be tackled.

    On the other hand, if they are the intention of Parliament (or at least, of Ministers subject to lobbying) then we have a simple political question of whether these politicians are acting in the best interests of their constituents, so then it's just a case of public lobbying to close deliberate loopholes that disproportionately favour the richest and most powerful in society.

    Stew G

  14. Oops. The first sentence of that probably doesn't make much sense. I'd posted another response to 1850 based on what was probably a mis-reading of his/her question, but it didn't post properly for some reason. Oh well.

    Stew G

  15. @02:55

    Based on what you've said I find it interesting that the Office of Tax Simplification apears to be made up of people who've been part of large accountancy firms and/or big business...

    ... Oh and the financial secretary responsible for the Tax Law Rewrite.

    Have you thought about contacting them with your thoughts?

    Contact us
    The Office of Tax Simplification welcomes your views and can be contacted at Whilst all views and ideas will be very gratefully received, we cannot commit to respond to every suggestion.