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‘Serious dissatisfaction’ with HMRC

‘Serious dissatisfaction’ with HMRC

Category: Money

Updated: 01/08/2011
First Published: 01/08/2011

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Both the public and tax professionals are seriously dissatisfied with the effectiveness of HMRC, a report has found.

The damning verdict has been delivered by an influential group of MPs, who have recommended a number of changes in a bid to improve HMRC.

In the Treasury Select Committee's findings, it said that a continuation of the failings 'may undermine respect for the tax system'.
A number of areas of concern have been identified, including:

  • Unacceptable difficulties contacting HMRC by phone during peak periods;
  • Endemic delays in responding to post; and
  • An increasing focus on online communication that may exclude those without reliable internet access.

The group of MPs said it recognised that the department performs a crucial role and operates under significant pressures, while management and other staff have tackled problems with 'dedication' and 'professionalism'.

"However, it concluded that the department has a difficult few years ahead of it, as it attempts to improve its service to taxpayers and benefits claimants, stabilise the PAYE system and introduce real-time information," said the committee.

It has recommended a number of changes be implemented, with HMRC told to improve the service provided by call centres, provide alternatives to online access and better targeting of letters that threaten serious consequences against people.

"Successive operational failings and unacceptably poor levels of service have damaged public confidence in the tax system," Anthony Thomas, president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said.

"For the tax system to work effectively, there must be trust between taxpayers and HMRC. Taxpayers and their agents must be able to navigate the tax system easily, pay their taxes and get answers from HMRC to their questions. The key is clarity over their tax affairs.

"HMRC must act urgently on these recommendations or risk undermining confidence in the tax system still further."

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