PAC Report On HMRC’s Performance

 In HMRC Powers, Tax Hell

The Public Accounts Committee have given their annual report on HMRC’s 2017-18 performance.

The 16 members of this committee noted that HMRC was increasing their powers while failing to pick up the telephone in a meaningful way. So nothing new.

Increased powers

The report noted that HMRC has acquired new powers and access to information to ensure better tax compliance. The Revenue said the register of owners of overseas companies that have property in the UK, which will come into operation in 2021, would be an important source of information for managing avoidance and evasion.

Targets for customer service

In 2015, the department received £1.8bn to fund its digital transformation and, in return, it pledged to make efficiency savings of £1.9bn by 2019-20. As part of this process, HMRC planned to reduce the volume of telephone calls and letters from taxpayers by providing digital services. When the committee last reported on the performance in January 2018 (tinyurl.com/y846d9t2). It’s not going to hit those targets.

On call handling, HMRC answered calls in four minutes 28 seconds (target five minutes) on average, with 14.6% of calls waiting longer than ten minutes (target not more than 15%). However, these results show the average speed to answer from when a caller enters a queue to speak to an adviser. So they are speaking to an automated message, not a real-life human being who might actually be able to help them.

The report noted that the performance targets did not cover the quality of advice received by individuals or the quality of service given to businesses. Further, its Annual Report and Accounts 2017-18 showed that business satisfaction with its services varies, with only 55% of mid-sized entities rating their overall experience of dealing with HMRC positively compared with 82% of large companies and 74% of small businesses. HMRC said it had changed the support it provided to mid-sized businesses, but did not yet know if it had had any effect.

The committee recommended that HMRC should, by the start of 2019-20, develop a scorecard of performance measures that provides an overview of the experience of businesses and individuals, including quality and a full view of call waiting times.

Past reports have been very critical of HMRC for whacking the small guy (called low hanging fruit) over the big guy (high net worth individuals).

PAC can only make suggestions to HMRC, they have no power over them. It’s this lack of accountability that is one of the big problems of HMRC.

Additional reporting from Taxation.

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