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The Practitioner: HMRC less popular than mothers-in-law

HMRC are under attack again for letting down the taxpayer by instigating too few tax evasion prosecutions. How long can the failing institution continue? They seem to stumble from one disaster to another, while never actually satisfying the ‘customer’ at all.

A lack of prosecutions is the least of their faults, if you ask me.

I have been battling with them on the phone recently trying to get them to stop calling my mobile number looking for a director of a company I no longer work at.

I rang them back following another voicemail and asked them to stop calling me. They wouldn’t speak to me because I didn’t have a reference number! Lo and behold the following day they are calling me again leaving voicemails for this other director.

I get the feeling sometimes that the staff actually enjoy winding me up due to how disheartened they are doing their job.

Incorrect penalties…

This year alone we have had to deal with incorrect self-assessment penalties, incorrect P11d penalties, as well as poor customer service on the telephones. Despite the billions they have spent over the years on systems and software, things seem to be getting worse – not better.

Another crazy example of their poor systems was highlighted recently. We have a client who has recently come out of employment to set up on his own. He has had a running battle with HMRC regarding tax on benefits they say he received, which he hadn’t. He came to us and we managed to get them to go away, issuing him with a nice five figure refund. A month or so after issuing him with a repayment cheque they sent him a demand for £5,000 of unpaid tax going back to 2011/12! The battle continues…..

We recently carried out a survey of our own clients, mainly owner-managed businesses, and asked them several questions to gauge how satisfied or not they are with our service. One question we asked, to gauge our relationship with clients, was ‘Who would you least want to be stuck on a desert island with?’

a) Your accountant
b) Your mother in law
c) HMRC

Thankfully for us, none of the answers came back as ‘a’. Some came back as ‘b’ but the majority were ‘c’!

If that’s not a damning verdict of their current status I don’t know what is.

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice, having left a regional firm in the heart of England

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