Four professional bodies have written to HMRC following record numbers of complaints from their members. It is clear that the joint professional bodies have become totally exasperated with HMRC's poor service levels and an ongoing lack of communication and engagement.

The letter from the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (ICAS) and Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) composed the following letter to Director General Customer Services, Myrtle Lloyd.

"Dear Myrtle,

HMRC service levels
Following the postponement of the Representative Bodies Steering Group meeting to 5 July, and in the absence of the expected interim meeting on HMRC performance and the agent dedicated line, we are writing regarding our longstanding concerns over HMRC’s service levels.

We all continue to be contacted by our members about poor HMRC service levels, and asking what we are doing about it. The issues being raised should not come as a surprise to you, having been shared with your staff by the professional bodies, through the online agent forum or via the complaints process. Issues seem to exist across a range of HMRC services and can change over time.

While not a comprehensive list, the following issues get raised with us most frequently: self-assessment registrations and refunds, correspondence about VAT grouping and the option to tax, section 455 refunds, responses to technical queries, corporation tax post and returns not processed.

Feedback also indicates that performance on the agent dedicated line appears to be erratic; there are sometimes very long waiting times and calls can be cut off unexpectedly and promised callbacks do not happen. Members are also concerned that helpline hours have not been restored to pre-pandemic levels.

To ensure we and our members are fully informed about HMRC’s performance and plans for recovery, we would like to inquire when HMRC expects to be able to publish the following information:

  • Response to Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommendations 6a to c: The government agreed with all three of the PAC’s recommendations regarding HMRC’s customer service and recovery plans.
    Recommendations a and c had a target implementation date of June 2022. Please confirm that implementation is still on target and that the Treasury Minute will be published shortly.
  • HMRC performance dashboard. The dashboard remains in development and only available via the online agent forum. There appears to be a delay to its progression and roll-out, including integrating it with the ‘Where’s My Reply’ service and making it widely available on gov.uk. Please confirm the expected timescales for the roll-out of the dashboard, and the plans and timescales for interaction with ‘Where’s My Reply’.
  • HMRC performance statistics. The latest information available is for the month of February 2022; we have not seen information for March or April 2022 or for the January to March 2022 quarter. When will these be published?

The professional bodies have all largely refrained from making public statements or media comments expressing concerns about HMRC’s performance standards. However, we are under considerable pressure from our members to demonstrate what we are doing about poor HMRC performance levels and to raise the issues with government, parliamentary committees and the media. The impact on individuals and businesses of these delays is considerable. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss our concerns further and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

John Cullinane Director of Public Policy, Chartered Institute of Taxation
Frank Haskew, Head of Tax, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
David Menzies, Director of Practice, ICAS
Senga Prior, Chair, Technical Steering Group, Association of Taxation Technicians"

Source CIOT Letter


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