ICAS writes to HMRC about poor service levels
ICAS and other professional bodies have sent a joint letter to HMRC to raise issues with HMRC service levels and to request actions.
HMRC service levels
ICAS and other professional bodies continue to receive reports from members about poor HMRC service levels. Whilst we had seen indications of improvements in reducing some backlogs, overall, many problems persist. This is not a comprehensive list, but the following issues get raised frequently with the signatories to the letter (ICAS, CIOT, ICAEW and ATT): self-assessment registrations and refunds, correspondence about VAT grouping and the option to tax, section 455 refunds, responses to technical queries, corporation tax post and returns not processed.
Feedback also indicates that performance on the agent dedicated line (ADL) appears to be erratic; there are sometimes very long waiting times, and calls can be cut off unexpectedly and promised call backs do not happen. Members are also concerned that helpline hours have not been restored to pre-pandemic levels.
The joint letter was sent to Myrtle Lloyd, Director General Customer Services, HMRC on 15 June.
In addition to flagging issues with service levels and the ADL, the letter called for three specific actions:
- Confirmation that HMRC is on target to implement the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) recommendations regarding HMRC’s customer service and recovery plans, i.e. that it should explain by Treasury Minute response:
- the service levels it is aiming to provide and by when, including for the time taken to answer calls and respond to post, and commit to publishing outturn against these measures;
- how it has tested the realism of its customer service plans; and
- its contingency plans if the numbers of taxpayers writing and calling exceed forecast levels.
- HMRC performance dashboard: the dashboard remains in development and only available via the online agent forum. There appears to be a delay to its development and roll-out, including integrating it with the ‘Where’s My Reply’ service and making it widely available on gov.uk. Please confirm the expected timescales for the roll-out of the dashboard, and the plans and timescales for interaction with ‘Where’s My Reply’.
- HMRC performance statistics: The latest information available is for the month of February 2022; we have not seen information for March or April 2022 or for the January to March 2022 quarter. When will these be published?
Meeting with HMRC in July
A reply to the joint letter has been requested for discussion at the next meeting of the Representative Bodies Steering Group (RBSG) on 5 July. The RBSG is an important HMRC forum where senior HMRC staff engage with professional body representatives.
Let us know your views
ICAS responds to many tax calls for evidence and consultations, as well as producing tax policy papers and reports. We also regularly attend meetings with HMRC at which service levels, delays and other issues are discussed, and we raise problems being encountered by Members. We welcome input from Members to inform our work; email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your insights and feedback.