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.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Hanging On The Telephone - Four Million Hang Up On HMRC

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.

Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations

What is TAXWISE?

TAXWISE is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.

To find out more, please use this link Taxwise

Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.

Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies

HMRC Is Shite (, also available via the domain, is brought to you by "The Living Brand"


  1. As Yoda would say:-

    "Iceberg tip of re-arrange!"

    All you doubters may wish to read what Danny Alexander decided to order...yesterday I believe!

    The paragraph about HMRC makes interesting reading - "how many?!"" FFS!!!

    It's only a matter of time

  2. Can someone get HMRC a new calculator, theirs does not seem to be able to calculate averages very well.

    Mind you, they may be lying again.

  3. Today.... still waiting I had to ring the employer helpline. This was at 13.45 I waited, listening to the usual rubbish until 2 mins 32 when I was able to select option 6. I then got another blast of exposition until 3 mins when the line actually started ringing. I am at 11mins plus holding on..

    The reason for ringing them. I filed a notification on their own website that I did not need to complete a year-end return for a PAYE scheme. They sent me an email confirming this. Now I have a letter saying the client is going to receive a £100 penalty.

    So.... after 12.17 mins someone answered.
    They are terribly sorry, the interim penalty warning letter went out 'a little prematurely'. No it didn't says I, It was issued INCORRECTLY. It is being referred to the quality team to investigate - and will they explain to me how this happened and reimburse my client for what comes out to a quarter hour unit £32.50 plus the cost of the phone call. No they won't ring you back... in which case I will make a formal complaint and request for reimbursement says I. I am holding on for a 'team leader' got a manager after 21 mins 40 and she is now checking the procedure.
    I will let this page know what comes of it!

    1. An HMRC staff member of the grade expected to answer calls from egotistical self righteous people such as yourselves is paid anywhere between £6-£10 an hour.

      You have stated that a ¼ hour unit of your time is £32.50. So in other words you are being paid £130 an hour for your expertise?

      You are prepared to charge your client extortionate fees which will probably total over £100 to clear a penalty that was less than £100 and expect the public purse to pay for it by way of compensation simply because you have chosen to make extortionate fees by charging your clients such fees.

      The wider public are slowly sacking their agents because they are fed up with the way that so called professional agents think they can hide behind the cloak of 'being an agent' and blaming HMRC for everything. The number of days that a 'tax agent' being so called experts (and not be ing challenged by HMRC) and justifying whether such fees should be considered will now be inversely proportionate to the number of days such agents have creamed off the status quo.

    2. According to the timestamps on this site. You stated you rang HMRC at 13:45. You stated you waited 22 minutes on the phone. This would mean that the 22 minutes you spend on the phone would bring you up to 14:07, yet you left this comment at !4:05, which by my reckoning means that most of the time you spent charging your client your all important phone time at £32.50 per ¼ unit was spent composing this message of tirade against an HMRC staff member who was yet to answer your call.

    3. Mr Anonymous
      Self-righteous? How so. And of COURSE I'm not paid that amount nothing like! if only. That is what my time is charged to the client at.

      Get your facts straight before you attack. And yes while I was waiting I started to compose message because this happens over and over and over again.

      I did not attack nor will I attack the poor Revenue staff who have to put up with the system but nor should the public or agents continue to put up with the gross inefficiency silently or nothing will change.

      Out of all the people who got these notices incorrectly, many will be members of the public who don't understand the system well enough to complain.

      My tirade is not against the staff members at HMRC and I told both the people I spoke to that this was nothing personal against them. Indeed, both said they understood where I was coming from. I could have sat there and done nothing, same result. In fact, I only charged the client 5 minutes but I was making a point.

      You really have it in for agents - I'm not sure why. I have been doing this job since 1978 when I left the Revenue because even then, they would not allow me to carry out work of which I was capable and flatly told me I would never progress beyond TOHG at that time because I was female. (different times) I work extremely hard for my clients and if part of that is having to make a formal complaint to HMRC because of poor practice, silly mistakes and appalling service well, so be it.

      I would be interest to know where you fit into the picture?

  4. Apparently, I will have a call back from a customer service offer within the next 25 working days. I kid you not. My Outlook is noted for July 18th.

    1. Good luck, they are not even capable of posting out forms.

    2. Good luck, you are not even capable of producing timelines of events that even a small child could see past.

  5. "Labour has accused HMRC of "chaos and incompetence"."

    It was Labour that started all this..

    the introduction of tax credits... the cut and shut of the Inland Revenue & Customs & Excise.... the transition to contact centres....the local office closures & staff reductions

    All Labour's doing