HMRC workers strike on day of tax return deadline

THOUSANDS OF call-centre workers at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are expected to hold a one-day strike on Tuesday in protest over privatisation.

The strike has led to a delay in the deadline for filing self-assessment tax returns.

The one-day walkout on the normal deadline day for filing self-assessment tax returns has forced HMRC to give taxpayers two extra days to send their returns before imposing a £100 penalty.

HMRC expects about 90,000 people will try to call its helplines on Tuesday with questions about their tax returns, but because of the strike there won’t be enough staff to cope with demand.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which has around 60,000 members in HMRC, is protesting against the appointment of private-sector companies to run call-handling trials in two contact centres.

The PCS said that up to 20,000 of its members are expected to go on strike on Tuesday.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Our members in tax offices want to do a good job and provide the best possible advice and help to taxpayers, but there are fewer of them working in fewer offices as a result of misguided and damaging cuts.”

“Instead of making even more cuts and throwing public money at private companies, ministers should be investing in their staff and tackling the billions in tax avoided and evaded by the super-rich.”

HMRC said in a statement last week that it was not privatising existing call centre jobs, but was considering options to improve services to the public.

The taxman is continuing to advertise January 31 as the deadline for submitting tax returns despite announcing a two-day extension last week, the Telegraph reported.

Mike Warburton of Grant Thornton told the newspaper: “I’m surprised the old adverts are still being run when it’s clear that a decision has been made to give taxpayers an extension. There is a risk that people will be confused.”

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