Wednesday 8 August 2012

HMRC's Telephone Service Standards

As loyal readers are only too well aware, HMRC's telephone service standards are often the cause of some robust discussions on this site (eg this post).

However, this is not the only site that vexes lyrical about HMRC's telephone service. The ICAEW Tax Faculty is also unimpressed, and was moved to publish a report at the end of July entitled "HMRC Telephone Service Standards".

The key points being:
  • Waiting times are still too long. HMRC needs to ensure that sufficient numbers of staff are available to take telephone calls.
  • Introductory messages and menus are too long and over-complicated.
  • More agent-only lines are needed.
  • Performance measures are required and should be published.
  • HMRC needs to do more to get things right first time in order to reduce the need for further telephone contact.
  • HMRC needs to make better use of IT to help it provide a more efficient service again reducing the need for telephone contact.
No surprises there then (given that the above issues have been repeatedly mentioned many times before on this site).

I wonder as to whether HMRC will take this on board and do something with it?

The ICAEW are hopeful, apparently.

For why?

They had meeting recently with Lin Homer:
"We and the other professional bodies had a recent meeting with Lin Homer, HMRC’s new Chief Executive.  We discussed these matters and it was good to see that Lin was personally committed to improving performance in this area.  

We shall see whether she is able to translate that commitment into action to bring about the improvements needed."
Problem solved!

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. I'm not holding my breath!
    Just tried to change client's address on agents line. She is moving on Friday. Two days hence. They would not take the information as it was too soon to tell them.
    If anything were going out today or tomorrow, it would be too late to change it anyway. Why should I have to make two calls? Or should I just have ahem lied? :)

    1. why do you need to call them back?

      Couldn't you just wait a couple of days & use the online service?

    2. i only just found out about the online service. I found out and used that.

    3. I would say that particular service has been available for at least a couple of years, then again its probably not that well advertised

  2. Can't wait for the call centres to be privatised in a country where the Queen's English is not the Mother Tongue.
    Can you imagine someone with a broad Geordie or Scouse accent trying to explain to someone at the other end of the line in Mumbai that their working partner is dead and they need to revert to the status of sole proprietor before Probate has been granted whilst at the same time needing a duplicate return issued for an earlier period and requesting time to pay. Oh, wait, what if the "customer" is requiring Welsh language spoken and copies of everything in Welsh!
    The trouble with the Civil Service is that by the time it catches up with reality, reality has moved on.

  3. "More agent-only lines are needed"


    Can't they just wait in the queue with the little people!

    1. we are charging the 'little people' for managing their tax affairs. If we have to wait for 30 minutes, the client gets charged.
      Why anonymous?

    2. where as the little people who can't afford accountants to wait in a queue for them have to wait in a queue

  4. It takes a week for the post to get out anyway, so rentawitch, they could have just changed it immediately, two days notice is not enough, the post is so slow at getting out.

  5. To be honest most of your clients don't need agents as HMRC does it for free.Anyhoo looking at the latest stats from the privatisation trial for call centres the private companies are failing against HMRC on every count despite them paying their staff less,private isn't always better although most who call fot it do so to make some quick cash not to improve the service.

  6. Anonymous, you are a twit. The Revenue do it for free? They do it wrong. They cheat. They dont correct things they know are wrong. Many people need accountants. I didn't say private call centres are better. Most call centres are evil. Not the individuals who work there. But the culture allows no-one to take responsibility for their work so there is no incentive to get it right. Let's go back to some system where someone is actually responsible for a number of clients and has some reason to take pride in their work.

    1. I have to agree...

      When I first started my direct dial went out on everything I did, so I if I got something wrong I knew about soon enough!
      It would be my responsibility to put the mistake right and learn from it!

      I retired a couple of years ago, but I imagine its pretty much the same, an 0845 contact centre number would go out on eveything or a generic post room address and when anything was issued that would be my involvement ended!

  7. Most people don't need accountants. until the Revenue get something wrong and the average person in the street can't get them to correct their mistake. And starting with the point of this thread that they can't get through to the Revenue in the first place!!!