It seems that over the past year, complaints made by taxpayers (or is it "customers"?;)) to HMRC have increased dramatically.
One of the reasons for the “unprecedented” increase appears to be a surge in complaints about Pay As You Earn (PAYE); mainly relating to errors in tax codes issued between 2008 and 2010 that caused a large number of underpaid/overpaid taxes.
The Annual Report (year ended March 2013) by the Adjudicator’s Office (which handles complaints from dissatisfied "customers" who have already tried to complain to HMRC, the Valuation Office Agency or The Insolvency Service), when referring to HMRC, said (page 12):
"During 2012-13 we received 1331 new complaints about a range of taxation issues. This was an increase of 107% on 2011-12 and accounted for 52% of the total number of complaints received. We resolved 525, upholding 55% either partially or substantially. Our investigators mediated 15% of cases directly with customers and the department. A large number of the taxation cases reviewed related to PAYE and were considered under the provisions of HMRC’s Extra Statutory Concession A19 (ESC A19)."In the summary the reports notes the following increases in complaints:
"The increase has all been from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) customers; including PAYE complaints up by 347% and Tax Credit complaints up by 59% on the numbers received in 2010-11."Judy Clements, the adjudicator, said it has identified a number of areas at HMRC where there are “systemic failures”, resulting in poor complaints handling.
“Most notably it is disappointing that for the third year running I have seen a range of cases where specific customer needs have not been recognised or addressed. I am unable to establish whether complaint handlers are not recognising the customer need or feel they are not empowered to step outside of procedures and provide alternative support.”She notes:
"I am disappointed at the number of complaints HMRC customers feel they need to refer to me in order to get resolution. My role should be to consider the difficult exceptions, not handle routine matters that are well within the capability of departmental staff to resolve successfully. At a time of austerity it is also important to note that the cost of dealing with customer dissatisfaction increases exponentially with every additional level of handling."Wise words indeed!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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