Skip to content
Home Link Logo

HMRC’s Phone Line U-Turn Solves Nothing

HMRC still unable to provide taxpayers with a fair and effective service

HMRC’s U-Turn on the closure of its customer phone lines over the summer period merely reinforces the fact that HMRC is not able to provide taxpayers with a fair and effective service.

Fiona Fernie, Private Client Partner said:

This policy U-Turn doesn’t address these wider issues or provide any over-arching ‘win’ for the UK public.

HMRC staff numbers have fallen significantly over the past 10 years or so, at the same time as the demands on the Revenue have increased exponentially because of issues such as BREXIT and the impact of ‘fiscal drag’ on the numbers who are now caught in self-assessment, but also simply because of the increase in tax complexity. In addition, it appears the training afforded to HMRC staff has not kept pace with that complexity, so the quality of advice that can easily be accessed either by the general public or, indeed, by agents is often inadequate.

Some of HMRC’s online forms are also not really fit for purpose which results in an increase in the workload of both HMRC staff and taxpayers or their agents with the result that the underfunding crisis is made more acute.

This ‘perfect storm’ of underfunding and increased workloads has resulted in ever-increasing delays in those seeking the support of HMRC, often on the simplest matters. For example, it can now take several months for a PAYE Reference to be set-up for a new employer or for a company to receive a VAT Registration number.

These issues are well known to the Government – and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), for example, has recently called for the Government to ensure that the Revenue is properly funded on an ongoing basis. However, until this is done, taxpayers will continue to suffer a poor service from HMRC generally.

She added:

Let us hope, therefore, that the Government ‘grabs the bull by the horns’ and does ensure that HMRC is correctly funded (and trained) on a going-forward basis, because as the old proverb states, a ‘stitch in time, saves nine’.

Would you like to know more?

If you have any questions about the above or would like to discuss your specific circumstance, please get in touch with your usual Blick Rothenberg contact or Fiona Fernie using the form below.

Contact Fiona

Fiona Fernie
Fiona Fernie
View Fiona's profile