The Times has highlighted chaotic scenes at HM Revenue and Customs where a landlord, amongst others, has been impacted.
According to its report for the past tax year, phone calls to HMRC took an average of 12 minutes before being picked up; people using the Revenue’s ‘Where’s My Reply?’ service reported waiting up to seven months for a written reply.
And the paper reports that last week anyone enquiring of HMRC about a tax rebate were advised that they may have to wait until June next year for a reply.
In the past 12 months the Revenue has taken some 33.5m calls, 2.5m of which were to a special Covid helpline.
One of a string of case studies cited by the paper as examples of the tax mayhem was a landlord.
She was “bombarded for months with demands for £383 in tax payments - including from tax collectors - even though she was instead owed a rebate.”
Despite intervention by her own accountant the landlord continues to be contacted by a debt collection service and HMRC demands for payment.
The landlord - who did not want to be named - told The Times: “I’m angry that one part of HMRC is pursuing this route at the same time as another part is reassuring my accountant the money isn’t owed. It’s completely shambolic and has left me extremely frustrated and saddled with extra costs.”
This case study, and the many others quoted in the story, comes despite HMRC having 26,000 staff in its customer service teams.
However, some 5,000 of these have until recently been redeployed to handle furlough enquiries.
The article concludes with an interview with the deputy chief executive of HMRC, Angela MacDonald, who apologised for the problems but warns they are likely to last well into spring 2022.
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