Four million taxpayers hang up on HMRC in frustration

HOLDING FOR AN AVERAGE OF SIX MINUTES frustrated a quarter of callers to HM Revenue & Customs’ PAYE helpline, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

The data demonstrates that some 28% of callers gave up part-way through their call, up 10% from 2009, when the waiting time was one minute and 53 seconds. Last year, the average was 5 minutes and 45 seconds, reports The Telegraph.

The news comes just weeks after it was revealed one in four tax helpline calls go unanswered, and months after government figures showed complaints over delays had gone up by nearly a third.

HMRC received more than 76,000 complaints from taxpayers in the last year, up from 73,000 the previous year but down from 84,500 in the 2008/09 tax year.

Complaints, though, rose from 16,882 in 2008/09 to 22,185 in 2010/11, leading to claims the taxman’s call centres were understaffed.

Fewer than half of taxpayers got through to an operator on first attempt, against benchmarks of 90%.

In May, Exchequer secretary David Gauke admitted the Revenue “recognises there are further improvements to be made and aim to achieve 90% of call attempts handled by 2014/15”.

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