Accountancy bodies condemn HMRC failings

Accountancy bodies condemn HMRC failings

The annual report of the HMRC Charter, released today, has revealed that poor service levels are hampering HMRC’s ability to achieve its Charter standards, according to the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).

Both institutions are members of the HMRC Charter Stakeholder Group, which monitors and evaluates HMRC’s performance against its Charter standards.

The report incorporates findings from a February survey conducted by the Charter Stakeholder Group. Over 900 responses were received, many criticising HMRC’s service levels.

The Charter standards of ‘being responsive’, ‘making things easy’, and ‘getting things right’ scored the lowest, with ratings of 2.3, 2.7 and 3.4 out of 10, respectively. Higher scores were observed for standards relating to the context of HMRC’s operations, such as ‘mutual respect’ and ‘data security’, with the latter receiving the highest rating of 6.5.

Bruce Cartwright CA, ICAS chief executive, said: “Our members are increasingly telling us that they face severe delays and frustration when dealing with HMRC. Poor HMRC service levels are having a significant impact on taxpayers and businesses.

“We and other professional bodies, continue to urge the government to invest more in HMRC to make sure they have enough resources to deliver at least an adequate service. Right now, this just isn’t the case.

“Without an increase in funding and resources, HMRC seems unable to improve their service and support to taxpayers to acceptable levels. It looks to us like poor service levels are undermining HMRC’s ability to achieve its Charter Standards.”

HMRC’s inefficiencies and the associated costs to taxpayers, agents, and HMRC itself were a common concern among respondents. Many respondents struggled with receiving prompt and effective responses from HMRC, with problems ranging from significant delays to obtaining guidance for simple issues.

The report also reveals that nearly a quarter of respondents are unaware of the HMRC Charter, increasing to 44% among taxpayers alone. There is a widespread belief among more than 85% of respondents that HMRC lacks accountability for its performance deficiencies. The Independent Adjudicator shared this sentiment, expressing concern over the lack of a consistent objective from senior HMRC leaders to prioritise the Charter in their strategic and operational decision-making.

These findings are supported by the HMRC’s Individuals, Small Businesses and Agents (ISBA) Customer Survey 2022, also released today. This survey indicates that only 27% of agents gave HMRC a positive rating on the ‘acceptability of time taken to reach end result’ in 2022, down from 31% in 2021. Half of all agents gave a negative rating on the same measure, an increase from 45% in 2021.

In response to these findings, both the CIOT and ICAS have urged the government to increase investment in HMRC to enhance its resources and subsequently improve its service levels and support for taxpayers.

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