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ICAEW members still concerned about HMRC service standards

Friday 20 January 2017, The latest ICAEW research survey shows little change in HMRC service standards over the past year.

Half of members think that HMRC service standards have not improved over the past 12 months. Nearly a third believe that they have fallen although a fifth think they have improved. Similarly, over half do not think complex queries are being resolved satisfactorily over the telephone and only a fifth have confidence that things will be ‘got right first time’.

40% of members think that the cost of using HMRC has increased over the past year, with only a small percentage thinking they had reduced.

Frank Haskew, ICAEW’s Head of Tax said:

“The results of the survey are disappointing, especially when HMRC’s own statistics over the past year show a different picture of a steadily improving performance for the general public. The difference may be reflected partly in the fact that agents usually deal with more complicated tax affairs, which are often more difficult to resolve than those with more straightforward affairs. The phone is not the best way of resolving more complex queries, which explains why getting through to the right person quickly to resolve queries and ‘getting it right the first time’ remain problem areas with our members. We welcome the fact that HMRC is working to address these issues and that HMRC has been meeting its own targets for improvements, but we think that the target for clearing 80% of post within 15 working days could be more ambitious.”

With current proposals for ‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD) looming next year, just 3 in 10 members view this as a positive development and only 15% of members think that HMRC is supporting the role of tax agents in this move.

Frank Haskew adds: “HMRC has made improvements this year which are welcome but there is more work to be done, especially as the UK moves to a digital tax system. Digital services for agents still lag behind the services being offered to tax payers, which makes it difficult for agents to be the drivers for change. Further, our survey suggests that without professional help three quarters of their clients will have problems meeting the requirements for making tax digital. This being so, it is particularly important that when digital services are rolled out to taxpayers, they are also rolled out to tax agents at the same time, so that the agent can see exactly what the taxpayer can see. We know this is HMRC’s ambition too and it needs to work closely with the profession, to make it a reality and support the valuable role that tax agents play in making the tax system work."

Media enquiries

Please direct all media inquiries related to this article to:

Kirsty Howe - Media Relations Executive
Tel: +44 (0)20 7920 3514
Email: kirsty.howe@icaew.com