Justine Riccomini explains the importance of recent joint letter to Chancellor asking for more investment in HMRC
Justine Riccomini explains the content of the recent open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer sent from ICAS and other professional bodies ahead of the Spring Budget.
ICAS has signed a joint letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP with other professional bodies in advance of the Spring Budget 2023. In the letter, the signatories asked him to consider including sufficient funding to "properly invest in HMRC" as part of his Budget spending plans.
Piling on the pressure
In total, ten leading UK professional bodies who collectively represent hundreds of thousands of accountants and tax advisers signed the open letter, which seeks to address the issue of under-investment and lack of resources, leading to chronic service level deficits.
Customer services resources drop by almost a quarter in the last five years
HMRC’s resources, including customer service staffing levels have dwindled year on year leading to significant delays in processing post, queries, tax relief claims and repayments – making life more difficult for everyone concerned. This recently came to the attention of the Public Accounts Committee who have stated that customer service staff numbers were cut by 24% over a 5-year period at the same time as £42bn went uncollected in taxes. On occasions when particularly overwhelmed, HMRC has shut down the telephone helpline.
Delays and disruption
Delays and disruption have become the order of the working day for many accountants and tax advisers who deal with HMRC and it is not unheard of for responses to be delayed by 6 months or more. To top it off, HMRC staff are one of the latest set of public sector workers to announce strike action over pay – the first one being on Budget day, on 15 March.
The plea to the Chancellor
The letter to the Chancellor stated: “Our members are increasingly facing severe delays, business disruption and frustration when dealing with HMRC which is having significant ramifications for taxpayers, business owners and their agents. If the government wants to meet its economic objectives and boost productivity, it must invest in improving customer service and effectiveness at HMRC. We urge the Chancellor to treat this as a top priority in his upcoming Budget.”