HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been accused of a "failure of leadership" after it announced that it would be closing one of its self-assessment phone lines for three months over the summer. The helpline, which receives more than five million calls from taxpayers each year, will be closed from June 12 to September 1.
In a letter to the Treasury Committee, HMRC said that the closure was necessary to deploy 350 advisers elsewhere in the organization. However, the committee's chair, Harriett Baldwin, said that she was "disappointed by the lack of detail and transparency" displayed by HMRC in response to her questions about the closure.
"There is clearly a lack of clarity over the impact this decision will have on taxpayers," Baldwin said. "I am also concerned that HMRC did not consult third parties on the impact of the closure before making the decision."
The closure of the helpline has been met with widespread criticism from taxpayers and tax professionals. The Chartered Institute of Taxation said that the decision was "short-sighted" and "will cause significant disruption" to taxpayers.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said that the closure would be "a major blow" to small businesses, who rely on the helpline for support with their tax affairs.
"This is a clear example of HMRC failing to put taxpayers first," said FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry. "The closure of this helpline will make it much harder for small businesses to get the help they need when it comes to their taxes."
HMRC has defended the closure of the helpline, saying that it is necessary to ensure that the organization is "efficient and effective". However, the decision has raised serious questions about the leadership of HMRC and its commitment to providing taxpayers with the support they need.
The closure is a clear sign of failure of leadership and that it will cause significant disruption to taxpayers.
HMRC needs to reconsider its decision and to reopen the helpline as soon as possible. The government needs to hold HMRC to account for its poor decision-making.
This is a clear example of HMRC putting its own interests ahead of those of taxpayers, it is unacceptable and must be stopped.Tax does have to be taxing.
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