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.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Those of you who maybe feeling a tad "frustrated" at times when trying to elicit a response from HMRC, wrt a query or information request, may find the advice offered by AccountingWeb to be of interest.

AW suggest that, when all else fails, people should try using a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

SARs give you a way to obtain copies of data from HMRC within a set time frame including; printouts of household notes (the notes that helpline operators make during telephone calls), claim and renewal forms, letters and recordings of telephone conversations held.

How SARs work
  • SARs must be made in writing addressed to the relevant District’s data protection officer; requests cannot be made over the telephone. Requests can be made by email and there is an online form on the HMRC website
  • The advantage of a SAR is that a response must be made within 40 days of receipt. If no response within the 40 days a complaint can be made to the Information Commissioner’s Office
  • The more detail given as to the problem the quicker the response. The usual personal details are required plus detail of the information requested.
  • The response is sent directly to the taxpayer; separate written permission is needed if required to be sent to an adviser.
 Please feel free to let me know if you have used this, and what the outcome was.

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  1. Is it true that call centre staff have to request access to household notes via email and it can be a 5 day turn round?

  2. 40 days my Badgers arse!!!
    I requested, under FOI, all relevant paperwork when I was under a tax investigation, It got to nearly 60 days and I nudged them a bit more, only to be sent all sorts of garbage that was of no relevence whatsoever, This was obviously a 'buying time'standard flanking deployment,....for which naturally they apologised profusely (about the only thing they are good at since they have to do it so often.)
    40 days?, yer 'avin' a larf!!!....

  3. @12:26

    This may have been partly because you made a request under Freedom of Information (FoI) rather than the Data Protection Act (DPA). SARs, which Ken has talked about, are covered by DPA and are concerned with information about you as an individual, so would cover HMRC's papers about you. FoI is more about information that's not specific to an individual, i.e. policy information or operational data, so it's applicable if you want to ask, for example, how many late filing penalties HMRC charged in 2010 or what they spent on copier paper.

    Having said that, the person dealing with your request should have recognised this and treated it as a request under DPA. What was the "all sorts of garbage" out of interest?

    Stew G

  4. My advice would be to complain to your MP instead and ask them to take it up on your behalf. This has a number of advantages in that:-
    1. It makes our elected representatives do something for you to justify their raison d'etre and their remuneration packages including expenses
    2. I understand that MP complaint cases as they are known are logged and given priority attention at all stages with tight turn round times which must be bet. These cases are likely to be handled by more senior officers at all stages too to ensure they get dealt with promptly
    3. HMRC haven't fared too well in front of parliamentary committees so are more likely to want to avoid incurring further 'bad press' with members of the house. The more our MPs get to hear about the realities of dealing with HMRC the better they might understand the daily difficulties faced by ordinary folk who have to put up with this shambles.

    like i say, it's only a suggestion to those offered by ken and other readers

  5. @19:14,

    Do both, I'd say. Both DPA and MP complaints get higher priorities so why not go for both?

    Stew G

  6. Is it true that call centre staff have to request access to household notes via email and it can be a 5 day turn round?
    7 October 2011 11:15

    Yes & no, I am unsure what you mean by 'household notes', contact centre staff can read & make notes on the main record, but they are not a jack of all trades & all the different IT systems and often have to send an electronic form to other departments to request an action or information. These e-forms can end up in a back log, often much longer than five days, or even disappear altogether into the ether of an unmanned e-form box with all the centralisation & changes that have recently taken place.

  7. DPA requests for access to documents in enquiry files are always denied due to the prejudicing collection of tax excuse. The Staff at Birmingham2 are very good at appearing to be stupid, ignorant, even complete morons. ICO talk big but don’t do anything, that is why HMRC continue to get away with it.

  8. It looks as though the bubble has finally burst in relation to the 103rd!
    There is after all a limit to how much abuse of power and responsibilty the public will tolerate, many more MP's are being contacted by constituents who are either "customers" and/or employees of the 103rd who have been subjected to the intolerable entity that is HMRC.
    It is high time that the truth about this organisation came out in the open.

  9. MP's are the way to go.
    Mine secured the result that myriad phone calls and letters (from myself) could not.
    God bless the House of Commons.

  10. @20.39

    "It looks as though the bubble has finally burst in relation to the 103rd!" etc etc etc etc ad nauseam........

    Classic ex investigation case? HMRC ate my hamster, kidnapped and probed by Hartnett, on and on he moans, posting the same stuff again and again and again............

  11. Hey 19:49, don't like it?
    Use the off button or go plague somewhere else.
    Or are you one of "them"?!
    LOL ;)

    p.s. you don't need to worry about conspiracies dear, not with HMRC, just concentrate on reality, that should suffice.
    If still confused you could try Youtube - "Llamas with hats", it might cheer you up...
    Failing that try a good haemorroid cream - you know it makes sense!

  12. Well, as Kryten would say, " A superlative suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One, we don't have any defensive shields, and two, we don't have any defensive shields. Now I realise that, technically speaking, that's only one flaw but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice."

    What happens when, as a consequence of making all these DPA requests, the actual post that HMRC is meant to be dealing with gets even further delayed?

    Also, I suspect that most DPA results will just prove that HMRC's version of events are nearer the truth (e.g. information not being provided in time for HMRC to act on it during the tax year) than some obfuscation the customer has created in their own mind.

    I recommend going to hospital about that bullet in your foot.

  13. Even if you get a SAR fulfilled AND get your MP involved it won't alwars get you any further. . .

    I've a tax credit issue that been rolling on for years. Had a SAR request returned. Info not there.

    Had been dealing with one MP who lost at the last election, I'm now dealing with the new MP's.

    After many cock ups with the 'helpline' I passed everything through the MP who either called the MP hot line or passed it to HMRC (this is not covered by my SAR request).

    HMRC are now saying that I have to prove that the last MP passed the info thought??
    Now I find out that all exMP records are destroyed when they leave office. I didn't know this?

    So despite doing everything right, involving the MP as a third party to ensure everything was double checked I'm still stuffed !

    This is clearly a whole cynical move on their part to ask for info that they know I can't supply. Even more, I've put in every letter for the last 7 years that I am communicating through the office of the MP. BUT they've waited until he was out of office and THEN demanded that I supply the info.

  14. @10 October 2011 09:29

    Yes that's right.... HMRC knew the results of the general election beforehand and deliberately witheld dealing with your query because they have a massive complex database with constituency boundaries and expected predicted swings with statisticians working round the clock just so that every 5 years or so they can save themselves a couple of quid dealing with an ongoing tax credit query.

    If you can supply the info once - I'm at a loss as to why you cannot supply the info again. It's not in anyone's interest to deliberately victimise someone in the way you describe here - least of all HMRC's.

  15. Well I have done a SAR's request and the days are passing by they only have 6 days left and my clock is going tick tock. I will report them to ICO office.

    They have totally f----d up my NI record resulting in my pension payments being in disarray too. This is a really complicated issue but I can't get any sense from anyone well only one a woman tax officer who sent me copies of my SA showing earnings HMRC said 7,000 per annum Tax inspctor said 19,500!!!See left hand right hand comes to mind!!

    Put it tis way if they don't sort it out then I will take it further and haul them thru the courts to show what incompetent, shambles of an institution it is.

    Cretan Lover