Union positive on tax credits

The PCS is hopeful the chaos of 2003 will not be repeated when up to six million claims are dealt with. The new tax year started on 6 April and the Revenue has begun the process of sending out annual review packs to taxpayers over the next few weeks.

‘Overall we are a little bit more confident with the quality of the testing of IT for release four,’ said Graham Steele, senior national officer for the Inland Revenue at the PCS. He added that traffic in telephone support centres was also ‘holding reasonably well’ and in line with expectations.

In reaction to last year’s debacle, the Revenue opened two new call centres, employing 1,200 staff to help cope with the traffic. ‘The extra bodies certainly helped to keep pace with the extra calls, and helped keep a grip overall,’ said Steele.

But despite his optimism, Steele fired a warning shot at Revenue chiefs, saying that members were ‘still quite volatile’ and much ‘less patient’ this time round. Last year, the union threatened the Revenue with strike action in the event of any repeats.

But some taxpayers have already expressed concern over the Revenue’s ability to calculate payments. One tax credit claimant told Accountancy Age she received a Revenue demand for £1,000 when she actually owed more than £1,700. ‘How can the computer system be right this year?’ she asked.

A spokesman for the Revenue said that tax credit renewals were ‘all going well’ and that things were quiet, but conceded isolated mistakes may occur.

‘Obviously we do make mistakes when we have over six million claims to deal with,’ he said. ‘There is a complaints procedure, and we urge people to use that should things go wrong.’

The Revenue expects that a third of claimants will not have to make any changes to the forms sent out. The remaining two thirds will have to return the form by 30 September.

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