Wednesday, May 29, 2024

‘Could do better’: FSB verdict on HMRC’s customer service performance

HMRC customer service levels are adding to the stress felt by SMEs trying to keep their tax affairs in order, according to  the Federation of Small Businesses.

The claim comes after the National Audit Office revealed the taxman’s customer service standards have declined, which promoted FSB Policy Chair Tina McKenzie to say: “The finding by the NAO that nearly half of all calls to HMRC go unanswered says a lot. Tax compliance is a huge headache for small firms, who spend on average 52 hours a year trying to sort out how much they need to pay, at a collective cost to small firms of £25 billion. It’s an eyewatering sum.

“The long delays, troubles getting through, and struggle to speak to someone who can actually help rather than read from a script compound the stress for small business owners who have received letters from the tax authority saying there is a problem with their taxes.

“We have previously criticised HMRC’s ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach to its communications with small firms, which can leave business owners in a state of panic. Every minute they’re unable to get through to someone who can help them sort things out means more worry and more alarm, which is why investment in HMRC’s customer service resources is so vital.

“Digital avenues for support certainly have their place, and many small business owners are perfectly happy to use them. But there are some times when speaking to a real person is the only way to get something sorted, especially for queries which are anything other than totally straightforward.

“The UK tax code is 10 million words long, and it’s impossible for small firms to match the in-house tax and finance expertise of their larger rivals. As well as improving customer service levels, HMRC should focus on ensuring that the guidance it provides is clear and as simple as possible to digest.

“We welcome the NAO’s report, with its emphasis on the need for HMRC to make ‘realistic plans’ and take a ‘more customer-focused approach’. Small firms come in all shapes and sizes, but they all need to know they can get tax queries sorted without delay – something that HMRC needs to ensure is the case for everyone.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our news site - please take a moment to read this important message:

As you know, our aim is to bring you, the reader, an editorially led news site and magazine but journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them.

With the Covid-19 pandemic having a major impact on our industry as a whole, the advertising revenues we normally receive, which helps us cover the cost of our journalists and this website, have been drastically affected.

As such we need your help. If you can support our news sites/magazines with either a small donation of even £1, or a subscription to our magazine, which costs just £33.60 per year, (inc p&P and mailed direct to your door) your generosity will help us weather the storm and continue in our quest to deliver quality journalism.

As a subscriber, you will have unlimited access to our web site and magazine. You'll also be offered VIP invitations to our events, preferential rates to all our awards and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Just click here to subscribe and in the meantime may I wish you the very best.









Latest news

Related news

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close