Complaints over ‘unqualified’ HMRC staff

Hundreds of complaints have poured into the ICAEW about the calibre of HMRC
call centre staff, claiming they are ‘unqualified’ to provide advice and the
service is worse than that delivered by traditional tax offices.

The criticism focuses on claims that call centre staff are unable to deal
with complex technical tax issues raised during calls by accountants, and
represents a major drop in the confidence of the profession in the tax

Jane Moore, technical manager at the ICAEW tax faculty, said that members had
posted a large volume of complaints about the service provided by the call
centres. She predicted even more friction with accountants as HMRC moved to use
more call centres in the future.

Moore said: ‘You can change your bank if you don’t get good a service, but
it’s not the same for HMRC.’

UHY Calvert Smith partner Nevil Pearce said contact centre staff only had
access to computer screens, and could not access individual files. ‘They don’t
have any technical knowledge and aren’t trained to deal with anything but the
most basic of queries.

‘It’s affecting accountants all over the country. Unless HMRC does something
about it, it will get worse.’

An HMRC spokeswoman told Accountancy Age that the concerns over
contact centres cropped up ‘every now and again’, but their use was
‘increasingly’ the way the department was heading.

A scheme piloted in Sunderland’s call centre, where accountants can be routed
through to old-style technical experts, is said to have produced encouraging

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