My thanks to a Loyal Reader who pointed out that Money Mail is looking for votes for their Wooden Spoon Award, which HMRC has featured in for six years running.
Why not make it seven years in a row?
Vote for HMRC via thisismoney.co.uk/spoon
No Wooden Spoon contest is complete without the taxman gracing the list. Incredibly, this is the sixth year in a row that HM Revenue & Customs has featured. Will it ever get its act together?
The introduction this year of the new marriage tax allowance was shambolic. Problems with the application process triggered a flood of furious letters to our postbag.
In most cases, you’d been unable to get the tax break because you couldn’t pass the online test
to prove your identity. Some of you wrote to complain, but didn’t get a response for months.
To qualify, older applicants were asked for credit card, mortgage, passport or driving licence details. This froze out those who have paid off their mortgage, don’t borrow, have only a paper driving licence or no longer go abroad.
The usual problems were also prevalent: callers have also been kept on the line for nearly an hour to speak to an adviser; readers told how separate departments failed to pass on information to each other; and families were unexpectedly hit with massive bills.
In particular, millions of elderly taxpayers keep being told that they owe thousands of pounds — but can’t get an explanation as to why. Worse, their appeal is often thrown out by officials. Only when their dispute goes to the Adjudicator, the tax watchdog, is it finally upheld. For many of those forced to fight HMRC, the most troubling aspect is that despite not putting a foot wrong, they’re held accountable for a tax mistake they haven’t even made.
A spokesperson for HMRC says: ‘Our service levels have not been good enough at busy periods this year, and improvements to our service have taken longer than we’d hoped. We have taken major steps to improve, including the recruitment of 3,000 new staff into customer service roles.’
Tax does have to be taxing.
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