HM Revenue and Customs has been made to apologise for its “shocking” customer service which is leading to many small businesses struggling to complete tax forms.
Cuts at HMRC have included shutting 14 offices and inviting nearly 700 staff to accept voluntary redundancy last year alone. It has led to just over a third of telephone calls to HMRC contact centre being handled within five minutes, while a quarter were not answered at all.
It comes as a major blow to the many thousands of small business owners who struggle with the complex tax and accounting systems in the UK. Many frequently need help and advice , struggle to speak with an advisor, and can face major fines and penalties if they make a mistake. HMRC’s drive and focus on digital reform is majorly hurting those with limited computer access or know-how.
John Allan, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Small firms often find themselves wrestling with highly complex tax issues and many need help to navigate the system. This can be highly stressful and confusing. Getting it wrong may lead to costly fines and time-consuming investigations.
“The recent evidence of poor performance by HMRC’s telephone contact centre is therefore disappointing. HMRC must do more to make sure that service levels are raised significantly.”
A HMRC spokesman said they were “sorry that some customers are struggling to get through” while commenting that plans are in place to “improve performance” and that 3,500 more staff will soon be in place in customer service centres.
If you are struggling with your tax enquiries, or are worried about potential fines and penalties, contact us at Green & Co.
Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.