HM Revenue & Customs… will they ever improve?

Being a tax manager at Barnes Roffe LLP, there are very few days that go by where I don’t need to pick up the phone and call HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”).

There are times when I get a pleasant surprise…

Recently, I submitted an amended Company Tax Return for one of our clients where there was a tax repayment due. There I was, thinking it would take at least 3-4 weeks if not longer for HMRC to deal with the amendment and issue the repayment. However, they surprised me, my team and the client. The amendment was dealt with and the tax repayment was issued to our client within one week!

BUT, unfortunately there are less pleasant days…

  • When I wait on the phone to HMRC for more than 10 minutes and find they cannot answer my phone call because of high call volumes.
  • When I find out that after writing to HMRC they cannot deal with our correspondence until after 4-5 weeks because of their back log.
  • When I do get through to someone at HMRC but they are unwilling to help, cannot answer my query and say “someone will call you back within 3 working days,” but then no one calls you back or if they do it’s after 3 days.

AND, to add to the above, I recently received a phone call from HMRC regarding a tax repayment that I had been chasing for more than a month. The officer who called me said “I am not sure why the Self-Assessment department did not issue the tax repayment when you called over a month ago; all they had to do was call me and I would have authorised the tax repayment over the phone to be issued.”

This just goes to show how many people work in HMRC, and many do not even know what they can and cannot do.

I do ask myself, when our client owes money to HMRC and it’s late, HMRC are straight on the case with interest, penalties and surcharges. Furthermore, if our client is late for any longer period then it does not take long for HMRC’s debt management team to get nasty.

In this changing world, will we see HMRC changing? Will they respond to our clients and to agents in a more fast and efficient manner? 

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