Single HMRC contact point
HMRC research has found that taxpayers would prefer a single point of contact for easily accessible information, instead of the current multiple contact options. Information would be preferred through a ‘Customer Hub’, where their situation is familiar and understood, and any issues can be addressed promptly, accurately and clearly.
We quite agree!
HMRC want to use the research findings to improve individual taxpayers interactions, to reduce the risk of errors, and to increase clarity.
Respondents made it clear that they wanted to deal once with someone who had sufficient knowledge and authority to solve their issues, to avoid repetition of the problem to different people over time.
One of the key subjects raised was that taxpayers wanted proactive explanations from HMRC, so they could understand the processes and guidelines around a situation.
They also wanted to be sure that a process had been fully and correctly concluded. It was mentioned that an absence of written confirmations from HMRC can cause uncertainty.
Incorrect Tax codes attracted a special mention, with respondents calling for an easier way to resolve issues. This is one we wholeheartedly agree with! In recent months incorrect coding notices have become a growing problem. Several clients have been unable to access historic codes, and even as appointed agents we can’t see them either, rendering it nigh on impossible to fully review a clients affairs with any accuracy, without hours spent calling HMRC to access what should be accessible.
Given HMRC’s stated goal is to move towards a ‘Customer Hub’, the strength of the concerns raised regarding excessive delays in taxpayers receiving new Government Gateway access codes where originals were mislaid or lost will also need to be addressed – and fast!
It’s good that HMRC are conducting what is deemed to be ‘far reaching’ research before implementing their ‘Customer Hub’, but that’s only the first step.
What’s needed now if a Customer Hub is going to work is some proper thought around the correct structure required for HMRC to provide even some of what has been requested.
Additionally, HMRC representatives with the requisite experience and authority to deal effectively with the queries that may be received are, in our recent experience, few and far between.
After years of reducing head counts, it’s likely to take some time to reverse the decline.
There are some people within HMRC that are helpful and responsive, but it’s too difficult to get through to those, and they are simply unable to cope with the volume of queries and questions they’re being asked to deal with.
If we hear any more about structural changes or service updates, we will of course keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any concerns about any of the aspects of HMRC contact mentioned about, or about your tax affairs in general, please get in touch, and we’ll help where we can!