TaxAssist Group has set up a petition calling for MPs to debate the declining level of HMRC customer service performance
The decline in HMRC customer service is causing significant problems for taxpayers and agents, and HMRC needs more resources to improve performance.
TaxAssist is lobbying MPs to prioritise the issue, saying: ‘We believe delays to Making Tax Digital and plans to move more enquiries to digital channels mean additional resources are needed to provide the country with an effective tax service.’
HMRC has reduced its customer service staff numbers from 25,500 to 19,500 and TaxAssist stressed that HMRC needs additional resources to meet demand.
‘Whilst we welcome HMRC’s move to online services, we are not convinced this will happen fast enough and are concerned vulnerable individuals may be left behind. There will always be a demand for traditional channels and the service level can be improved with extra resources.’
The leading accountancy and tax institutes have criticised the current service levels, while the Treasury Committee has held a number of hearings with senior HMRC officials to try to get to the bottom of the issue. The situation has been exacerbated by the closure of the self assessment helpline over the summer as HMRC struggles to deal with telephone enquiries.
At a recent Treasury Committee hearing, MPs described HMRC services levels as a mess.
Victoria Atkins, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘Our customer service levels across HMRC have not been as they should be so I have been working with officials to find ways to surge our customer service teams to handle peaks in demand that we see across the [help] line.’
So far the petition has several hundred signatures but needs to reach 10,000 to receive a government response and 100,000 to trigger a parliamentary debate.