HMRC takes more than 40 days to respond to 13% of letters

HMRC takes more than 40 days to respond to 13% of letters

Jan 15, 2024

HMRC is struggling to deal with more than one million letters a month and some taxpayers have to wait more than 40 days for replies by post

Although nearly 87% of letters are responded to within a 40 working day period, there are still 13.2% who do not receive a response after more than eight weeks.

The sheer volume of post is putting HMRC under pressure. Despite the push to digital only service, since April, HMRC has received a total of 12 million letters, with nearly 1.4 million letters in November alone and over 90% of these needed a response. This figure was down on the same period last year when there were 1.49 million letters.

HMRC is targeted to respond to 80% of letters in 15 days but is currently performing well below this rate at 72.2%, back to August levels despite a temporary improvement after phone lines were closed and staff were moved to postal handling over the summer.

This means that over a quarter of letters and iForms had not been responded to within the 15-day deadline.

Elaine Clark, owner of Cheap Accounting, complained about the low level of service from HMRC, posting on X (formerly Twitter) that she had received a reply from HMRC to a letter after 12 months.

Posting at @cheapaccoutning, Clark said: ‘Letter received from @HMRCgovuk dated 8 January 2024 saying…

“With reference to your letter dated 10 January 2023 I apologise for the delay in replying.”

‘A year to reply to a letter!!!!!!’

‘They are bloody useless aren’t they.’

Last year accountants at JF Hornby & Co complained that they received a letter over three years after their initial enquiry was sent. The response from HMRC was to notify the firm that the request not able to be completed.