A investigation in December by Which revealed two thirds of calls to HMRC helpline were cut off because the system was busy. The remaining callers were on hold for an average of 41 minutes. According to Rebecca Benneyworth, a tax lecturer, the system is getting worse as staff are moved from one section to another based on the demand for service.
How does the service improve?
According to HMRC, moving more services online is the solution. These services include:
1) Your Tax Account: An improved version of the business tax dashboard, allows businesses to file, review and pay their liabilities.
2) Digital Self Assessment: An online portal for filing personal tax used by about 1.2 million people. HMRC send notices to individuals via email, instead of post, after validating their email addresses.
3) Pay As You Earn (PAYE) for employees: A system allowing employees check also their tax codes in addition to the currnet option of checking car allowance usage.
Who does this benefit?
Benneyworth suggests giving accountants more online access to PAYE information would improve answering client queries quicker. For example, if it was not clear National Insurance payments were made, the HMRC PAYE webpage would confirm the answer to that query.
Jim Harra, HMRC director general insist the new recommendations were not about “Self Service” but a way to encourage taxpayers get advice on more complex issues including compliance, from their agents(accountants). He continued to state it was about taxpayers getting a value added service from their accountants, who adhere to high standards.
Any concluding thoughts?
Benneyworth says agents may be frustrated with the current service levels and the length of time the new system may take to fully implement however, the digitisation of services is a great idea.