Accountants say HMRC tax health plan helpline under-staffed

HMRC started the second phase of its Tax Health Plan last month and accountants are now complaining that it is impossible to get through to the helpline.

The Revenue has sent letters to medics who did not make a voluntary declaration or those who are suspected of non-compliance. The correspondence informs doctors and dentists that HMRC believes they have received income that has not been included on tax returns.

The letters go on to warn recipients that a criminal investigation might follow and they are advised to contact HMRC’s helpline within 21 days. Some recipients have said the letters are bordering on threatening.

However, agents claim not to have received the letters which they say must have been sent out in bulk. Other advisers say they have tried to phone the helpline only to discover that one operator was off sick leaving only one person available to answer calls.

A Revenue spokesman dismissed the allegations saying it has an obligation to make sure people pay the correct amount of income tax and it will always get in touch with someone if inconsistencies are discovered.

He went on to say that medics were offered preferential terms in order to make voluntary disclosures and letters were only being sent to those who did not take advantage of the THP arrangements or in cases where discrepancies have been discovered.

Government spending cuts have meant that HMRC has lost a significant number of staff in the last couple of years. But members of the public are going to lose faith if they receive threatening letters and then find it impossible to discuss the problem via the helpline.

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