Taxman failings are costing the country money

Taxman failings are costing the country money

10 November 2015

Last week, MPs warned that the quality of customer service at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was so poor that it could be could be costing the country money.

In a strongly worded report, members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused the tax office of only answering half of the calls to its customer service team. MPs also cautioned that those running tax evasion and tax avoidance schemes were “running rings around the taxman".

Committee statistics said that HMRC responded to 72.5 percent of calls in 2014-15, a rate that dropped to 50 percent in the first half of this year.

Although the customer services team have a target of answering 80% of phone calls within five minutes, the damning report said that operators were only getting to 39% in this time.

Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC said HMRC must “rapidly improved its customer service previously described by the PAC as abysmal and now even worse.”

HMRC denied that poor customer service was affecting tax collection and said it had recruited 3,000 extra staff to help out.

Failing to tackle offshore tax evasion

Despite government promises to get tougher on those who evade and avoid taxation the PAC suggested that HMRC was doing little to tackle the problem of wealthy people hiding money abroad.

The PAC said that “incredibly” HMRC had only completed 11 prosecutions for offshore tax evasion in the past five years.

MPs were also concerned that, despite being handed a list of over 3,000 British people who hid money in Switzerland, HMRC had only managed to prosecute one person involved.

Helen Johnson, Accountancy Services Manager at Umbrella.co.uk said: “I think that taxpayers have the right to be very angry with the findings of this report. Not only can hardworking taxpayers not get on the phone to discuss their tax situation, but at the other end of the scale, wealthy tax evaders aren’t even being prosecuted when they get caught red handed.

“If my department only responded to half of the telephone calls we received then I wouldn’t expect to be in a job for much longer.”

Umbrella.co.uk’s customer service team is always on hand to answer any of your financial questions. To get in touch call: 0800 121 6513.