A report by the Commons Treasury Committee, entitled ‘The Administration and Effectiveness of HM Revenue and Customs’, has highlighted HMRC’s ‘poor performance’ in answering taxpayers’ enquiries.
In the report MPs have highlighted ‘endemic’ delays in replying to taxpayers’ letters and numerous phone calls which were being unanswered at peak times.
MPs are seriously concerned with how HMRC’s senior management have been organising staff, describing their approach as ‘demoralising’ and ‘very disturbing’
Mike Clasper, Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs, has responded by saying that HMRC are ‘not happy’ with their ‘performance in 2010’.
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Clasper apologised by saying:
“It simply wasn’t good enough on post and telephone and I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to the people who had to take a long time to get through, or we didn’t get back to them quick enough with the post.
“In 2011 we’ve been working very hard to improve things.”
HMRC are now said to have recruited 1,000 extra members of staff for their tax enquiry call centres, in a bid to handle more calls during ‘exceptionally busy periods’.
Post levels for individual taxpayer responses are also said to be down by half by HMRC, compared to amounts received in 2010.
The Treasury Committee report has also shed light on HMRC’s ‘flawed implementation’ of the new pay as you earn (PAYE) system. This has caused further ‘significant damage’ to both HM Revenue and Custom’s reputation and UK taxpayer’s confidence in their services.
“HMRC’s delivery of services to the general public has fallen to unacceptable levels in several areas.
“There is considerable dissatisfaction among the public and tax professionals with the service provided by the department,” the MPs added.
Within the Administration and Effectiveness of HM Revenue and Customs Report, the Treasury Committee has advised that HMRC improve their response to complex tax queries via phone and provide cheaper customer call centre rates.
MPs have also expressed concern that HMRCs reliance on taxpayers providing information and filling out tax returns online was a disadvantage to people without substantial access to the internet.
“We are concerned that HMRC’s performance will continue to deteriorate if further reductions in resources are badly managed,” the MPs said.
The Treasury’s report concluded that if taxpayers continue to find contacting HMRC ‘time-consuming, difficult and expensive’, ‘respect for the UK tax system, and with it voluntary compliance, may be undermined’.
HMRC must find cost-effective ways of providing alternative communication for UK taxpayers, especially face-to-face advice.
Kevin Kinsella Jnr, of KinsellaTax, says:
“For HM Revenue and Customs to reduce errors and maintain a service for compliant taxpayers, they must provide effective ways of communication with prompt and accurate advice.”
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