HMRC failing to provide ‘timely service’, says Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has come under fire from Citizens Advice for leaving taxpayers waiting on the phone for too long.

The charity looked at complaints made to HMRC’s Twitter account between September 2014-August 2015, after people seeking help from the charity had reported not being able to get through to resolve matters with HMRC.

Citizens Advice said it analysed over 11,500 tweets from the past 12 months and found that people complained via Twitter about spending an average of 47 minutes in total to speak to someone at HMRC.

Citizens Advice advisers acting on behalf of clients say they also face long queues for the intermediary line, which they can use to make direct contact with HMRC staff.

The charity warned that the roll-out of Universal Credit and changes to tax credits could mean waiting times will further soar as more and more people try to speak to someone about their circumstances.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “People are paying the price for not getting through to HMRC. From fines for not completing a tax return in time to under or overpayments for tax credits, people can be left out of pocket because they cannot speak to HMRC on the phone.

“Work and caring responsibilities means not everyone will be able to wait for three quarters of an hour to ask HMRC a question.

“We have consistently raised this issue with the Government. But evidence from across the Citizens Advice service, and our new research, shows HMRC is still failing to provide a timely service.

“There is already a clear demand to be able to speak to HMRC. With the roll-out of Universal Credit and big changes to tax credits just around the corner this is only going to grow. HMRC needs to urgently address the problems many people are experiencing with phone lines.”

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