AAT responds to HMRC customer service criticism

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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has come under fire today for a poor approach to customer service.

The public accounts committee (PAC) has released a new report reviewing the performance of the department in 2014-15; criticising HMRC for amongst other things, having a response rate to customer calls which is dipping down to only 50% of calls answered in the first half of 2015.

The public accounts committee’s report argues that customer service at HMRC has become so bad that it may be hampering tax collection, with Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the PAC saying: “HMRC must rapidly improve its customer service, previously described by the PAC as abysmal and now even worse – to the extent it could be considered a genuine threat to tax collection.”

As a professional qualification and membership body for the accounting profession, with over 4,100 members in practice, we at AAT aren’t surprised to hear the news of HMRC’s customer service issues. For some time now, you, our members have reported that your clients have been experiencing a deterioration in service from HMRC, which is regrettable and definitely not acceptable.

In making that observation, it does have to be recognised that despite HMRC’s rate of calls answered declining to 50% over the first half of this year, they have still managed to reduce the tax gap, the difference between the amount of tax due and the amount collected, to its lowest level of 6.4 %; a long term trend showing its approach for tackling non-payment is working.

The good work of closing the tax gap is to be highly commended, although it may be of little comfort to the HMRC customer who has to wait for over 30 minutes to get through when dialling in about something which is of major concern to them and their business, or who is informed that they will have to await a lengthy amount of time to receive a repayment of tax which is rightfully due to them.

Therefore, AAT is pleased to note that HMRC is working with the accounting profession to improve its customer service levels, and we will do everything on our power to assist with the task-in-hand.

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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