HMRC apologises to contact centre callers

The Revenue has issued an apology to callers who could not get an answer when they telephoned its contact centres following the Easter break.

HMRC said it was inundated with calls after Easter mainly from people who were unsure whether or not they needed to fill in a self-assessment income tax return.

Since 2010 the Revenue has been working hard to improve response times at its call centres but standards slipped after the holiday weekend. Accountants were outraged that HMRC had invited people to call and then did not have the staff in place to talk to them. On top of that the PAYE system was undergoing down time over Easter and frustrated employers were unable to get answers to their queries.

The taxman has now transferred 350 additional staff into its contact centres and made sure that all call centre employees who have been trained in self-assessment are dealing with those types of calls.

Response times did improve once these measures were put in place, but HMRC was still asking taxpayers to delay calling if their enquiry was not urgent.

There was also another problem with the Revenue’s IT systems that caused problems for users of older PCs. HMRC changed their security certificates and the new ones only work on newer machines meaning that people with older computers had enormous difficulties when they tried to use HMRC’s software to file their returns.

Things keep on going wrong at HMRC. This does not bode well for the introduction of Real Time Information and we must hope the government department manages to get its act into gear before compulsory RTI reporting begins in October 2013.

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