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.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Hanging On The Telephone - Call Rationing



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.

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."
A few days later, HMRC officially announced:
"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. 

Ken:You still banned from reading this then? 

Anon:Yep. Or mentioning it. Or thinking about it......."
Anyhoo, that aside, here we are in April and HMRC are having to apologise for a "slippage" in the call handling/answering "quality".

As per HMRC:
"We are aware that over the last few days the steady improvement in contact centre service since 2010 has slipped.

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:
  • 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.
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."
Therefore folks, do not call HMRC unless it is urgent!

Seemples!

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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10 comments:

  1. I remember disgruntled lemmings and the hysteria it caused it was hilarious. The fuss HMRC made over that site and this one only gave them publicity. The site gives HMRC staff the chance to vent - It is one of my all time favourite blogs and all staff should be encouraged to read it!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, that's a nice thing to say:)

      I remember Disgruntled Lemmings, and if you go to this article from 2007 on this site you will see a link to an archive of Disgruntled Lemmings:

      http://hmrcisshite.blogspot.co.uk/2007/11/disgruntled-lemmings.html

      Delete
  2. Does anyone still work for HMRC? I have spent most of the evening trying to get through to the SA online help desk with no luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess that you have no alternative but to reduce your enquiry to writing then send it by a courier in order to get an acknowlegement of delivery. Follow it up by weekly by sending copies by second class - expensive - post in the hope - unlikely - that you will get a correct and binding answer to your enquiry. Best of luck.

      Delete
  3. No they work for Sitel, get paid less money, have no tax experience and they can access your record's. HMRC is slowly being privatised so it will only get worse

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    Replies
    1. I guess I will just stick with the paper system then.

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    2. I thought that HMRC claimed confidentiality when it appeared before the PAC so how can non civil servants working Sitel - not a British company - be allowed to see personal tax records? Stinks!

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    3. "I thought that HMRC claimed confidentiality when it appeared before the PAC so how can non civil servants working Sitel"

      You forgot one thing, HMRC staff lie.

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    4. Not all of them , you'll find that the lower bands who get the backlash generally tell the truth (well the truth as they are told to tell it)

      Delete
  4. '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".'

    - I think you are making the wild assumption that any of the management take a blind bit of notice of their staff. Many have been outlining just how impossible it is to deal with certain workloads for some time, but what do we get? More cuts:

    http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-has-hmrc-been-spared-from-the-cuts/10314
    - ones that Camoron decides to lie over.

    As the poster above states, most of the people 'at the coalface' are keen to do a good job, but managment are as equally keen to see who can dispose of more staff and create new illogical processes- and we (the staff) and the public all suffer for their imbecility.

    ReplyDelete