HMRC blows its trumpet – but if the tune falls flat for you, let us know!

The latest Your Charter Report has been issued. It is published at the same time as HMRC’s Annual Report and Accounts and The Tax Adjudicator’s Report. All of these reports give us insight into HMRC’s relationship with the taxpayer and how this is developing. In a nutshell, things are looking better customer service wise – but does this resonate with you?

HMRC Annual Report and Accounts

HMRC’s Annual Report and Account sets out HMRC’s latest performance results which includes the collection of £28.9 billion from compliance activities, which exceeded their government target. With total tax revenues of £574.9 billion, this report shows record tax revenues for the seventh year in a row.

It also revealed the best results for customer service performance. On this, the report says:

‘We are transforming the UK’s tax and payments system with simple, secure and personalised digital services for our customers that helped deliver our best ever performance last year. We exceeded our targets across the board. More than 80% of customers told us they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with our digital services. More than nine million people accessed their Personal Tax Account.

‘We handled more than 1.6 million webchats, and saw 92% of Self-Assessment customers submit and pay their return online – more than ever before. For the first time we offered a permanent seven day a week service across our main helplines to make it easier for customers to contact us at a time that suits them. We answered customer calls in an average of under four minutes and exceeded our target for turning round customer post while receiving fewer new complaints.’

HMRC Charter Report

The Charter Annual Report covering April 2016 to March 2017 can be viewed on GOV.UK.

This is the Charter Committee’s report on how HMRC has performed against the standards expected in its Customer Charter (there is a new HMRC You Tube video presented in British Sign Language explaining the Charter)

The 2016/17 results show encouraging improvements in the following areas for individuals:

  • Respect you and treat you as honest
  • Provide a helpful, efficient and effective service
  • Deal with complaints quickly and fairly:
  • Accept that someone else can represent you

You may be interested to note that those who may need extra support are represented on the Charter Committee by Natalie Doig. According to the pen portrait at the beginning of the Report, she has more than 18 years’ experience in the field of disability rights, equality and diversity; work she continues in her role as Director of Hareonna Diversity Ltd. Over the years, she has worked with organisations to improve the representation for disabled people, and particularly those with a visual impairment.

The Adjudicators Report

The 24th Annual Report of The Adjudicators Office was published on 13 July, covering the year to 31 March 2017. The Adjudicator and her team of 56 carry out impartial investigations into complaints about HMRC, The Insolvency Service and Valuation Office Agency referred to them by members of the public who have not been able to resolve their issues directly with the relevant agency. Complaints mainly centre around mistakes, unreasonable delays, poor and misleading advice, inappropriate staff behaviour and the use of discretion.

The report shows that HMRC’s complaints handling continues to improve, with the number of complaints about HMRC upheld by the Adjudicator falling for the third year in a row. However, the Adjudicator’s report says that HMRC still need to exercise their discretion better and learn lessons from the insight provided by complaints. For a more detailed look at what is in the Report, see our LITRG news piece ‘Adjudicator recommends HMRC develop a ‘listening’ culture’.

Other publications

Alongside these reports, the following documents were also published which you may find interesting:

  • Customer experience of Intelligent Telephony Automation (ITA) – New research issued to understand customer perceptions of, and behavioural responses to, Intelligent Telephony Automation used on HMRC customer helplines.
  • 'Corporate Report: Our Strategy’ – The HMRC Strategy includes a declaration of their values (which are professional, act with integrity, show respect and innovative), a series of key decisions they have taken in order to achieve their objectives and the principles they hold that will inform everything they do.

What do you think?

All of these reports give us insight into HMRC’s relationship with the taxpayer and how this is developing. Much of what is here paints an improving picture for taxpayers, customer service wise, but we know that this may not be the case for everyone.

However, did you know that LITRG engages reasonably regularly with HMRC on disability matters, through HMRC’s ‘Disabled Customer Consultation Group’?

If you have specific examples of where you do not think HMRC are handling the needs of people with disabilities well, we would be pleased to hear them so we can put them forward to HMRC. Please therefore feel free to get in touch to share any experiences that you are willing for us to mention to HMRC in anonymised form. (To be effective, it is helpful if such examples can be as specific as possible, otherwise, it can be difficult to get HMRC to take up issues as ‘problems’ if we are just making general points.)