As loyal readers are only too well aware, the thorny issue of getting through to HMRC on the phone regularly rears its ugly head on this site with the depressing frequency and inevitability of an unloved season.
Indeed only yesterday I received this Facebook message from a loyal reader:
"Rang HMRC yesterday from 11.00am until 4.30pm and just got the intro/push button crap followed by the engaged tone. Finally got the ringing tone and left it ringing for 35 mins. I hate to think how much it's cost me.
I tried to talk to someone because they say I owe £941 from last year but last year my income was £7200 and my tax code was 747 so I owe them nothing!
In the last 6 weeks I have had 6 tax codings and a total of 11 codes mentioned in those codings, I am so baffled by it all. I e-mailed David Gauke today and am now waiting to see if he can help!
Keep up the good work you are doing a great job!!"In April 2012 I wrote the following:
"On Tuesday 10 April 2012, LITRG made three calls to HMRC helplines using the routes taken by an ordinary PAYE caller, a pensioner and a tax credit claimant. On average the wait was 29 minutes. LITRG note that on a PAYG mobile that could have cost £11.60 per call, which could equate to half a day’s income for a pensioner (my advice here is that you should avoid calling HMRC using a PAYG mobile)."It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that the issue continues to be making headlines, and that the mainstream media have done some probing
The Telegraph reports that figures, obtained by the Times under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that 28% of callers to HMRC (approximately 4 million people) gave up midway through their call to the PAYE helpline. This is an increase from 10% in 2009, when the average waiting time was one minute 53 seconds. Last year, the average waiting time was five minutes 45 seconds.
Fewer than half of taxpayers got through to HMRC on the first attempt, against an industry benchmark of 90%. Labour has accused HMRC of "chaos and incompetence".
HMRC claim that change in waiting times is because of a decision to increase the size of the queue, so that fewer people hear the engaged tone when they call.
HMRC are quoted in the Mail:
"These figures do not reflect the improvement in service at contact centres."Fair enough, maybe, my question is has there been an improvement in service at "contact" centres?
Tax does have to be taxing.
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