The ICAEW recently conducted the fifth in a series of surveys asking its members to provide their views on HMRC’s "customer" service standards. The results of the survey have been published as TAXREP 58/12 HMRC Customer Service Performance, and were copied to the National Audit Office (NAO).
I am ungemused to see that the ICAEW has adopted HMRC's "Orwellian speak" word of "customer" when referring to taxpayers.
The survey asked the same questions over five years. Of the respondents to the survey, 40% came from small firms (those who are not part of a regional or national practice) and a further 38% were sole practitioners.
The top three issues were as follows:
- Delays in receiving answers to postal queries - 83%
- HMRC inability to resolve issues satisfactorily - 64%
- Difficulty in contacting HMRC - 56%
The following key points to emerge from the survey were fed back to HMRC:
Tax agents are acknowledged by HMRC as an essential part of the UK tax system. It follows that given this vital role, they need to be able to communicate with HMRC easily, efficiently and reliably.
The ICAEW remains very concerned about HMRC’s ability to meet its aspiration to "provide an increasingly efficient and high quality service" while reducing staff numbers.
Members responding to the survey identified three areas which HMRC should concentrate to help improve overall service standards. In order of priority, these were:
- nominated staff having ownership of problems;
- e-mail access to HMRC;
- better trained staff;
Difficulty in communicating with HMRC is the largest problem for agents. It is difficult to get through on the telephone (this will come as no surprise to this site's loyal readers), HMRC staff who answer the phones frequently do not have sufficient knowledge to be able to resolve queries, promised call backs do not always happen and letters sometimes remain unanswered.
The Agent dedicated line (ADL) for SA and PAYE is welcomed by agents, and there is a call for ADLs for other taxes and services eg debt management, employer issues, on-line services.
The call for more ADL’s is a reflection of the poor service given to the public on these other lines, and this needs urgent attention.
HMRC is spending considerable sums developing its on-line services for businesses, particularly smaller businesses. However, it does not always consider the needs of agents when these systems are designed.
As ever views and comments are always welcome.
Tax does have to be taxing.
Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations
Insurance to protect you against the cost of enquiry or dispute with HMRC is available from several sources including Solar Tax Investigation Insurance.
Ken Frost has negotiated a 10% discount on any polices that may suit your needs.
However, neither Ken Frost nor HMRCISSHITE either endorses or recommends their services.
What is Solar Tax Investigation Insurance?
Solar Tax Investigation Insurance 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 Solar Tax Investigation Insurance
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 (www.hmrcisshite.com), also available via the domain www.hmrconline.com, is brought to you by www.kenfrost.com "The Living Brand"