HMRC needs adequate resourcing to improve customer service

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed a report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which endorses the concerns of tax professionals about HMRC customer service levels.

The report, HMRC performance in 2022-23,1 published today (28 February), draws on evidence provided to it by CIOT2 to conclude: “HMRC’s customer service levels are at an all-time low because of conscious choices made by HMRC and HM Treasury… HMRC insists it has good-quality digital services for customers to manage their taxes but this is not the experience shared by the taxpayers and their agents that got in touch with us.”

The PAC recommends that: “HM Treasury and HMRC should ensure HMRC’s customer services are sufficiently resourced… so that it can meet its service standards until its digital services adequately address the needs of taxpayers and their agents.”

Gary Ashford, President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, commented:

“The committee has hit the nail on the head.

“HMRC’s customer service levels remain unacceptably poor and they are being under-resourced for what they need to provide.

“The first principle of tax compliance has to be making it easy for willing taxpayers to comply with their obligations, and HMRC’s Charter promises to provide services designed around what taxpayers need to do. However, the tax system is complex, and taxpayers and their advisers trying to comply with their obligations need to be able to obtain support quickly and easily.

“HMRC’s strategy is based on diverting most enquiries to their online guidance or automated digital assistant, but this simply does not work for many queries. Access to webchat advisers is not actively publicised, and they seem insufficient in number because of the lengthy wait times experienced.

“Unless and until automated digital services can be radically improved HMRC must be provided with the resources to provide all year round, well-publicised help and advice to taxpayers from a human adviser over phone and webchat.”