It seems that thousands of complaints about incorrect tax bills, codes and unpaid credits are being thrown out by HMRC without investigated by an impartial adjudicator.
Money Mail reports that one in 40 people who have been fobbed off by HMRC has their case heard by an independent adjudicator.
Seemingly people often don’t know they have the right to escalate their complaint to the Adjudicator’s Office, where they can get an impartial hearing. Additionally, people cannot email the Adjudicator's Office.
HMRC funds the Adjudicator’s Office, and refuses to cover the cost of setting up this service.
I would ask at this point, how can the Adjudicator's Office be independent if it is funded by HMRC?
Elaine Clark, managing director of accountancy firm CheapAccounting, is quoted:
‘HMRC is clearly not doing enough to highlight the adjudicator service to taxpayers. And even those that do know about it often don’t have the energy or expertise to take on that fight.Many will have been repeatedly stonewalled and are so worn down that they would rather give up and move on — which is worrying because time and time again, HMRC will tell you they are right even when they are wrong.’
Between April 2017 and March 2018 HMRC received 77,410 complaints. Of these, almost four in ten — 39 per cent — were fully upheld in the first instance. A further 15 per cent were partially upheld.
This means 30,190 were resolved fully, leaving 47,220 either only half settled or rejected entirely.
If you are unhappy with the outcome at this stage you can request that HMRC reviews your complaint again.
Of the complaints referred back to HMRC in the last tax year, 19 per cent were fully upheld. Another 22 per cent were partially upheld.
If all cases that were only partially upheld or rejected completely were referred back to HMRC, it means a further 8,972 complaints were fully upheld at this second stage of the complaints system.
This leaves 38,248 cases where customers received only a partial result or had their complaint thrown out.
It is at this point that HMRC should tell you about your right to escalate your complaint to the independent adjudicator.
However, of the 38,248 complaints not fully upheld in the last tax year, just 943 were referred to the independent Adjudicator’s Office — around one in 40.
Many of these may not have been winnable. But last year the adjudicator upheld around four in ten (39 per cent) of the complaints it dealt with.
In its annual report, the adjudicator says:
‘There is evidence to suggest that for every customer who complains to an organisation, there are many more who have been treated similarly who do not.’
A spokesman for the Adjudicator’s Office says HMRC could do more to inform customers using its complaints process about how and when to access its service, as well as make it easier for them to do so.
Here is the address you should write to:
The Adjudicator’s Office,
PO Box 10280,
or call 0300 057 1111 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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