In response to controversy over the long waits on its helplines and with pressure from MP’s, the HMRC has committed to providing online complaints facilities for taxpayers by Autumn 2019.
Currently taxpayers escalate their complaints about HMRC and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), to the Adjudicators Office (AO) to get an impartial hearing, but can only complain in writing by post, or fax, or by making a phone call.
Whilst playing a vital role in resolving complaints against HMRC, getting in contact with the Adjudicators Office is often difficult and many are not aware of the services they provide. And, with complaints taking the form of incorrect deductions or wrong tax codes, taxpayers thinking they have been taxed too much, have had unreasonably long delays, or if they have been given poor or misleading advice, it is imperative that the process should be as easy as possible.
Reports have shown that phone complaints can take hours of waiting in a queue, sometimes before being cut off, or that time is wasted talking to an automated voice before being cut off. Nicky Morgan MP, who is chair of the Treasury Committee has therefore written to HMRC to voice the committees ‘surprise’ that taxpayers were unable to email the Adjudicator's Office.
HMRC’s failure to allow online complaints to be received has been further questioned and in some cases stated as hypercritical, following the forced move for millions of businesses and individuals to pay their tax online. But, HMRC have again blamed Brexit, and their priority for getting ready to leave the EU as the reason for the delayed upgrade to an online system and have now pledged to have it in place before, or by, Autumn 2019.
Figures released show that in 2017-18 the HMRC internally resolved over 98 per cent of complaints, with just over 1 per cent of complaints being escalated to the Adjudicator Office.