In February I wrote the following:
"HMRC have slightly softened their earlier stance on fining people £100 for failure to send in a self assessment on time (even if they owe no tax). HMRC now states that outstanding returns and associated penalties, where taxpayers call HMRC and explain that they do not need to be in the self assessment (SA) system, may be cancelled.A few days later, HMRC officially announced:
HMRC will be sending a flyer with the penalty notice, inviting taxpayers to phone the general SA helpline number if they think they don’t need to be in SA."
"Under a new initiative to help its customers, HMRC has confirmed that anyone who receives a penalty, but who believes they don’t need to be in Self Assessment, can call the department on 0845 900 0444."As loyal readers wryly observed at the time, given that under "normal circumstances" getting through to HMRC is rather "problematic", this added workload on the already overworked call centres may be a straw that breaks the camel's back.
In fact one loyal reader noted the following:
"that's news to me and I work on the SA helpline!"Now from all of the above I know that my wise and experienced loyal readers would have seen what was quite obviously going to happen. Unfortunately, for reasons best known to HMRC, HMRC did not see what would happen. Possibly because HMRC ban their staff from reading/contributing to this site:
"Anon:Pat on the back Ken. I would show my manager this, as an example of how to deal with making a mistake. I would, but I'd be facing a disciplinary for reading/contributing to the blog.............lol.Anyhoo, that aside, here we are in April and HMRC are having to apologise for a "slippage" in the call handling/answering "quality".
Ken:You still banned from reading this then?
Anon:Yep. Or mentioning it. Or thinking about it......."
As per HMRC:
"We are aware that over the last few days the steady improvement in contact centre service since 2010 has slipped.Therefore folks, do not call HMRC unless it is urgent!
We are determined to reverse that.
This slippage has been in large part due to extremely high levels of calls from taxpayers responding to our invitation to query the need to complete a self assessment tax return. We apologise to those callers who have been unable to get through to us.
To tackle this additional demand we have:
These measures are already taking effect and service is improving, but it will help us to restore services more quickly if taxpayers with non-urgent enquiries can defer their call until next week, when we are confident these measures will have improved things even more."
- moved 350 staff from other duties in HMRC into our contact centres
- focused all self assessment-trained staff within our contact centres onto the lines dealing with self assessment calls
- moved managers and trainers onto front-line contact centre services.
BTW wrt tax, given HMRC's rather pushy manner these days, what constitutes "urgent/non urgent"?
I suppose people could write to HMRC, given that (according to Danielle Stewart of Baker Tilly) HMRC's postal service is farking excellent! However, irrespective of what Daniell says, don't hold your breath expecting a swift response
Now if only HMRC could remove the ban they have on their staff visiting this site, then maybe HMRC would be less prone to cock ups like this in future as HMRC staff would be forewarned of the possible consequences of HMRC's actions and be able to help HMRC management avoid these "snafus".
Tax does have to be taxing.
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