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Where Taxpayers and Advisers Meet

HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm
Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Tue Feb 13, 2024 2:35 pm

By Jason Croke
09th Feb 2024 17:47
Yes, but Harra says everything is brilliant and customers and tax agents really love the inability to achieve anything with HMRC.

I swear this is another Post Office scandal in the making. None of the online services work, letters aren't replied to, queries go unanswered for months and yet, taxpayers have to get everything right first time or else penalties.

The VAT number checker is broken, I'm also seeing several anomalies on the "what you owe' page on the gateway, I tried to setup a time to pay the other day and was refused because I was told client had outstanding returns...but they don't, all returns filed, I'm looking at the returns in Xero and even the gateway says filed...roll eyes.

I don't call HMRC on Friday anymore as it's too depressing and means you start the weekend feeling a failure, I do my calls midweek as that way I only feel useless until Friday.

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Tue Feb 13, 2024 2:37 pm

By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
10th Feb 2024 10:00
I got bumped off mid-call, about an hour in if you count the 40 minutes I was in the wait queue.

After 20 minutes explaining the issue we were just getting somewhere when the nice lady in HMRC tech-services was cut off mid-sentence by an automated voice informing me that HMRC was very busy, and I should try calling again later. Then dial-tone.

I expect many of you will have had your call terminated in similar abrupt fashion and been booted out of the queue an hour into the music and repeated assurance that your call is important to HMRC. That's the first time it's happened to me during a conversation.

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Tue Feb 13, 2024 2:45 pm

And my winner of the gold medal for best response:

By Mr J Andrews
13th Feb 2024 13:14
Pre-Harra days of course , this was never a problem. It's as though the Head Honcho C.E.O. is on a Death Wish mission to do all he can to miss out on the usual gong as a recognition for so called services rendered. Perhaps Harra hasn't read about the Post Office scandal and the dumb appointment of a C.B.E. to Paula Vennells in 2019 - only to be recently and voluntarily returned before the obvious escalation in embarrassment and hopefully all round deserved punishment in light of ongoing enquiries. Perhaps the Honours Committee will now think twice about awarding such gongs willy nilly thanks to Vennells. I doubt it.

Anyway Jennifer - now that's off my chest I'd like to suggest the way forward in getting HMRC to provide the service that you - and the rest of us - deserve.
{1} Forget about what this bastardised department offers in the way of excuses. Four weeks is [ more than ]sufficient time for a response in any business.
{2} If no response within 30 days , a reminder is in order - worded as such to include a complaint. Don't be put off by pathetic statements that this reminder only adds to the problem. It's THEIR problem , not yours. Get someone in to replace the CEO if this management problem can't be resolved. Suggest scrapping the ridiculous MTD whim for starters and deploy resources in reverting to a service.
{3} Nothing doing after another 30 days [ to be expected ]- FORMAL COMPLAINT letter. Copy letter to your / the client's M.P. pointing out that , apart from the disgusting service , the stress / distress which the client / HMRC's customer / the M.P.'s constituent is obviously undergoing. Invariably this HMRC ignorance and unacceptable delays does cause such worry amongst the ill , elderly and cases of bereavement. A quarter of a year is shocking. Paltry repayment supplement on a delayed tax refund is simply not good enough where the repayment is urgently required .Point out also the Revenue's failure to abide by it's own ADMIN LAW MANUAL and Parliamentary obligations. I'm sure the M.P. will be delighted to read ADML 3200.
And don't forget to include a claim for compensation. Whilst Codes of Practice now generally favour HMRC and it's ''Charter'' has long since vanished , they are still obliged to reimburse the likes of postage , phone calls , professional fees where the delay is unreasonable . Again, don't be fobbed off by their interpretation of ''unreasonable''. Even place a figure of what you consider fair compensation [ say £200 minimum ] and refer the Revenue to another of their internal manuals COMPLAINTS AND REMEDY GUIDANCE { Yes really couldn't make it up - the HMRC library which none of their staff seem to be aware of or adhere to } Suggest they look at CRG 6050.

Will the service improve by following these guidelines ? Probably not. But worth a try surely !

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Wed Feb 14, 2024 8:23 am

Repayment Case 2
Tax return filed 15 Nov 2023
92 days and still 'repayment pending'

Steve Wright's Mr Angry must have been created with HMRC's current telephone offering in mind. 'Yesterday callers had to wait on average 5 hours for us to answer'.......'they make me so angry, I want to slam the phone down' (Sir Jim's cunning plan).

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Wed Feb 14, 2024 3:26 pm

I echo the thoughts of Mr J Andrews.

It seems everytime you contact HMRC there is a preface of 'we are sorry'....please stop apologising and fix the problems...just telephoned HMRC NI...sorry....long telephone waits suggest you use the chat....used the chat.....sorry we are unable to help with your question....back to the telephone....and yes I do feel like Mr Angry...but with good cause.

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Thu Feb 15, 2024 10:26 am

Repayment Case 2
Tax return filed 15 Nov 2023
93 days and still 'repayment pending'

A few minutes under an hour wait for the phone to be answered by HMRC yesterday.
The often quoted 3 July letter remains unanswered
Two of the four 64-8s I mentioned will probably never get processed unless I chase them

Why is the service soooooooooooo much worse than it was in 1984?

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Fri Feb 16, 2024 11:45 am

Repayment Case 2
Tax return filed 15 Nov 2023
94 days and still 'repayment pending'

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Fri Feb 16, 2024 2:05 pm

29 January 2024
Nigel Huddleston MP
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road
Dear Minister,
Chartered Accountants’ Hall Moorgate Place London EC2R 6EA UK
T +44 (0)20 7920 8100 F +44 (0)20 7920 0547
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) incorporated by Royal Charter (RC000246)
Registered office: Chartered Accountants’ Hall Moorgate Place London EC2R 6EA UK
I am writing to you with some further details on HMRC service performance, as discussed at a
meeting between the Chancellor and ICAEW on 16 January 2024.
Before setting out the details of issues that our members face when interacting with HMRC, I
summarise ICAEW’s recommendations to improve matters.
Increased investment in HMRC to develop better digital services and to improve customer support
that is needed until these digital services can be demonstrated to reduce phone and telephone
• An HMRC taskforce to clear the backlog of correspondence and thereafter keep on top of
• Prioritisation of HMRC resources. We think that there may be scope to refocus HMRC
resources onto the development of digital services and altering processes that will reduce
phone and post demand in the short to medium term. This is particularly the case for digital
services for agents. We have provided a list of possibilities to HMRC. As part of this
reprioritisation, HMRC may need to stop some activities.
• Greater consideration of the impact of any tax policy changes on HMRC’s effectiveness
including, for example, the increase in the number of taxpayers who will need to complete
self assessment tax returns because of the freezing and reduction of bands and
• A step change is needed in HMRC’s approach to driving forward improvements along with
greater accountability.
• Ensuring that any tax policy changes adopt a ‘digital first’ position with the aim of reducing
the administration burdens placed on HMRC and taxpayers.
• Also in the longer term, the tax system needs to be radically simplified so that taxpayers are
able to successfully engage with it without needing to seek help from HMRC.

Experiences of ICAEW members
ICAEW continues to receive evidence of unacceptable HMRC service performance on a daily
basis. The problems are across all HMRC service areas and include extreme waiting times on
helplines, calls being cut off and long delays in responding to post. Members are increasingly
Page 2 of 4
commenting that the quality of service that they receive when they do speak to an adviser or
receive a written reply has deteriorated significantly with HMRC advisers unable to deal with the
issue and giving incorrect information.
Appendix 1 includes a selection of case studies of feedback ICAEW has received from members.
These case studies, from across HMRC service areas, illustrate the impact that poor HMRC
service performance is having on taxpayers, businesses, and their agents.
Most HMRC helplines are operating reduced hours. Prior to the pandemic many of the major
helplines were open in the evening and at weekends. This is no longer the case and there does not
appear to be a plan to restore the previous hours.
Poor service performance increases the risk of tax not being collected and is an administrative
burden on taxpayers, their agents and also HMRC. The impact of this burden on economic growth
and the associated costs are difficult to quantify but is nonetheless real.
Self Assessment
The situation is currently most acute in the area of income tax self assessment (SA) and
individuals’ PAYE. This is partially seasonal, but the situation has been exacerbated by HMRC’s
decision to restrict the SA helpline and the agent dedicated line (ADL) to a limited range of queries.
Agents are unable to phone HMRC about any individual’s PAYE issue (including, for example, an
incorrect tax code) and cannot phone about problems with registering or deregistering for self
assessment. These issues cannot be resolved by agents online. SA repayments are often made
promptly but if they are flagged for checking, they take many months to be resolved. This renders
the service level agreement and the information on HMRC’s Where’s my reply and dashboard tools
much less helpful than might appear to be the case.
Members are also expressing considerable frustration about the quality and handling of enquiries
into claims for research and development (R&D) tax relief. While HMRC should take appropriate
action to tackle abuse of any tax relief, the current high-volume approach is causing many valid
R&D claims to be rejected or withdrawn. Members report significant delays in the handling of
enquiries exacerbated by not being able to chase progress or resolve misunderstandings as
enquiries raised by the team in Individual and Small Business Compliance have no named point of
contact. Where the claimant company had made a repayment claim, these delays can have a
significant impact on its cash flow.

Employers’ PAYE
Our members who are employers and payroll agents tell us that they do not have confidence in
HMRC’s employer liability and payment (L&P) records due to persistent errors that have arisen
since PAYE real time information was introduced. They tell us:
• HMRC’s employer L&P account figures do not agree with employers’ records of liabilities
and payments made;
• referrals of figures that do not agree to HMRC’s Charges Resolution team are not dealt with
in a reasonable time;
• HMRC’s Debt Management & Banking (DMB) continues to chase for payment after a
dispute is raised; and
• employers and payroll agents cannot view the figures in HMRC’s enterprise tax
management platform (ETMP) in the same format as HMRC.
We have numerous real-life examples that we would be happy to share. We are in discussion with
HMRC about some of them.
External evidence of the issues
Page 3 of 4
A significant body of evidence is available from HMRC performance data and public statements
including the Charter annual report and HMRC’s annual report and accounts for 2022-23. The
report by the Comptroller and Auditor General in HMRC’s annual report and accounts highlights
the problems as does the annual Adjudicator’s report. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC)
launched its annual enquiry into HMRC’s accounts on 27 July 2023 and has collected evidence but
has yet to report. Its report into HMRC’s performance for 2021-22, published in January 2023,
concluded that taxpayers and their agents were still not receiving an acceptable level of customer
service and that the move to online services will not happen quickly. It made a series of
recommendations for improvements and asked that HMRC’s CEO responded to the PAC within
three months. HMRC replied on 12 May 2023. The Treasury Select Committee has also held an
evidence session and exchanged correspondence with HMRC. More recent data from HMRC does
not show any real improvement and there has been a further deterioration in telephone
The First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive, HMRC, set out HMRC’s position in stark
terms in the letter to the Public Accounts Committee dated 12 May 2023 referred to above, saying:
“Our existing resource levels will not enable us to handle current forecast demand – which is set to
increase significantly – for our phone and post services in line with our service standards.” A
reduction of £1bn to HMRC’s budget (2023/24 £5.7bn, 2024/25 4.7bn) was confirmed at Autumn
Statement 2023.
The prospects of improvement in service levels in the short to medium term seem remote. HMRC
considers that the solution lies in online self-service by taxpayers and agents. In the annual report
and accounts it states that it wants a 30% reduction in the volume of contact through phone and
post by 2025 (compared with 2021/2022).
However, HMRC’s digital services are not comprehensive, don’t work well and can be difficult to
access (for all and especially those with particular accessibility needs or lacking identity
documents). Digital services for agents lag behind the development of services for taxpayers.
Developments such as the single customer account show promise but will take years before they
make a significant difference to phone and post demand. HMRC is severely constrained by the
complexity of moving taxpayer records from legacy systems to new platforms. Developments such
as Making Tax Digital for income tax self assessment (MTD ITSA) are not expected to improve
customer service levels (HMRC’s main rationale is that the MTD ITSA will help to close the tax gap
associated with error and failure to take reasonable care). MTD ITSA, even if it can be delivered by
the intended go live date in accordance with the latest plans is likely to lead to increased demand
for telephone support while it is being introduced. There is an arguable case for redeploying
investment and resources allocated to MTD ITSA to improve other HMRC digital services.
Budget representations
ICAEW has also submitted a formal representation to HM Treasury ahead of the Spring Budget
taking place on 6 March 2024.
In that representation ICAEW’s key tax policy recommendations are:
• Deliver a tax strategy for modern simplified and digital tax system.
• Review tax cliff edges and remove disincentives to improving growth and productivity.
• Design all tax policy changes with the aims of simplifying the tax system and reducing the
admin burdens on both taxpayers and HMRC.
• Invest in digital tax services to address gaps and improve data access reducing demand for
phone and post services.
• Review HMRC’s capabilities to address the current and future demands and improve
service standards.
Page 4 of 4
• Review the VAT recovery rules for businesses where they do not own the goods but have
an economic interest in them (eg, when handling goods as third parties or leasing).
• Incentivise HMRC to improve its performance and provide equitable redress to taxpayers
that have incurred extra costs due to delays.
We look forward to hearing from you and we are very happy to meet you to discuss them.

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Mon Feb 19, 2024 9:05 am

Repayment Case 2
Tax return filed 15 Nov 2023
95, 96 and now 97 days and still 'repayment pending'

Joined:Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:25 pm

Re: HMRC-is it time to call the Army in?

Postby etf » Tue Feb 20, 2024 8:51 am

Repayment Case 2
Tax return filed 15 Nov 2023
98 days and still 'repayment pending'

Nigel H MP clearly hasn't yet acted on the suggestion that an HMRC taskforce is required to clear the backlog of correspondence (and why is there a huge backlog when 70+ per cent of post is dealt with in 15 working days? is all smoke and mirrors...assisted by FOI denials).

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