Are you there, HMRC?

If you have ever needed to call HMRC’s helplines, you will no doubt empathise and agree with what seems the continuous stream of news articles, forums posts and social media comments about the quality of the helpline service and the frustration that taxpayers and agents experience.

This year has been no different with articles appearing in many of the national newspapers and leading business websites telling of the poor customer service experienced at the hands of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs with ICAEW’s 2015 HMRC Customer Service Standards survey highlighting in its key recommendations that the “service standards remain below an acceptable level and HMRC needs a clear pathway to improvements”.

Will It Ever Improve?

Unfortunately, taxpayers and agents should not expect this to change as it has been reported by many national newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Guardian that plans to reduce spending on customer services by a third over the next five years will cause further issues and poorer standards.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee  that had previously criticised the previous cuts in 2014/15 that led to a “collapse” in customer services and “unacceptable” waiting times has warned of the planned further cuts leading to another collapse in these services and a drop in standards.

What Should I Do?

The digital strategy that HMRC is now implementing will ultimately lead to a far more efficient and integrated service but it appears that traditional customer service methods such as the helplines will continue to suffer during the transition process. Our advice is to become an early adopter and sign up to the personal and business digital tax accounts and the services they offer as soon as they become available, this will inevitably lead to you needing to use the traditional customer services far less often. However, if you do need to call the helplines, we’ve learnt that early mornings and in particular mid-week early mornings tend to be the least busy.

As ever, we here at Bright Horizon are always here to help with any accounting, tax and business queries you may have. You can contact us here.

Jody Miles
Qualified Chartered Management Accountant with more than 10 years practice experience. Very different from the stereotypical accountant but professional and diligent none the less. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my young family and volunteering on the Calshot RNLI Lifeboat.

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