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Do the Revenue leave the phone off the hook? Or do they ever answer their phones?

Could I ask if anyone else has problem communicating with the Revenue? On calling the local office for a Corporation Tax query, I found the phone constantly engaged. Busy I thought - I'll leave a message get them to return my call. No, engaged at 6pm 7pm 8pm 9pm 10pm 11pm then I retired (bed only), 6am 7am 8am and then throughout the day.

Now I am calling the National DIY team only to experience the same. I then decide to phone the VAT advice line, who answer, but surprise, surprise - their assistants are all busy and I get cut off. Then tried the website. E-mail bounced back there is apparently a problem with MY browser settings.

I need an urgent answer to reply within their timescales, you know 30 days from the date of the letter, which arrived after 15 days in the hands of the incompetent Post Office. I can't wait for the similar to happen or indeed for a written query to spend the usual 15 days in a Revenue in-tray.

Any suggestions?


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Same old same

Most of our CT work is now with Staffs area, old East Lancs work. When we had the number for Stockport and Stoke all went well, now we have a wolverhampton (!!!???!!!) number which is constantly engaged. I did get thru about 8.15 one morning, during the strike period, but I think the woman I spoke to was the cleaner, she was certainly of no help.

My colleague tells me the VAT helpline is exactly the same

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Working together

We all experience this issue, its all part of the HMRC working together policy.

I urge everyone to put a formal complaint into HMRC, that way we may get a chance of change. I complain all the time and these complaints are targeted.

Lets be fair, there isn't the staffing numbers at HMRC to deal with the organisation effectively, something has to give and it isn't their debt collecting team.

This just isn't right, but as accountants do we complain through the official channels? most of us do not.

remember that we all have an option tomorrow to change Britain, so think long and hard who is going to make HMRC better, if any of hte 3 major parties!

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I particular enjoy the recorded message which tells me what the opening hours are (and include the time at which I am calling) before I get cut off!

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CT far worse

We are experiencing this too.

I imagine they are simply taking their phones off the hook for prolonged periods, as some days you can call no problem, others you can call and call on redial for hours on end.

Also the calibre of the staff is deteriating rapidly. Has anyone noticed the creep of "we cant deal with this"? 

Previously CT has competent staff who could actually do things in one call.



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As agents

it is essential that practising accountants use agent priority numbers to reach HMRC IT and Ct offices.

I have found that even if no agent priority number is available for the particular office you want ring a different one . You normally get e response within 2 minutes or less and with computerisation they CAN AT WORST PASS ON AN E-MAIL MESSAGE FOR THE RIGHT OFFICE TO RING BACK (ALTHOUGH THIS IS USUALLY SOME DAYS LATER) Apologies for caps lock not noticed.

Don't expect an answer to your call outside office hours.

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Put everything in writing

From 1 January this year I resolved never to telephone HMRC for the reasons expounded by the OP. It's tempting to try and beat the system sometimes by getting through to a half normal person and sorting a query with the minimum of fuss, but this strategy always results in an own goal in the long run. The alternative of writing a letter takes longer in theory but in practice avoids the unacceptable situation experienced by the OP who must have positioned his client file next to the telephone on a dozen or more occasions in one day.

I believe complaining is pointless due to understaffing and lack of expertise at HMRC. I don't deny that the HMRC appeasers (and those who attend Working Together talking shops) have achieved the odd improvement but at the coal face there has been a sharp decline in standards. My strategy is aimed at keeping my blood pressure low and has succeeded.

It's a sad state of affairs where I have effectively given up on any chance of an improvement before I hang up my boots.

Tom Egerton



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There are now agent numbers for CT offices?

Thats new - where can I find those?

For income tax they are most helpful for basic enquiries such as tax code changes.

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Often writing is also futile

I have lost account of the number of times that I have had to write in at least 3 times before getting a reply.


I did have a similar experience to the OP earlier this year when trying to call the CT office at Merthyr Tydfil I tried for several days, and several times a day always getting an engaged tone. Must admit I did wonder if they had also closed that office down but not informed anyone.

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Same old problems

but nothing ever happens. Surely this site should be channelling the complaints to HMRC and asking for specific answers. Don't we have a contact for these things? I doubt if an HMRC phone is truly engaged at night and probably not during the day, all the time. Is this more of a CT problem? I usually get straight through to the agent dedicated lines for SA and get the right answers/action.

Should mention I got a strange one yesterday though. Agent dedicated line told me I was the authorised agent for SA but not noted as such for PAYE enquiries and that I should call CAAT to sort it. However my query on PAYE code was dealt with.

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Authorised agent

Anon above, what balderdash. the 64-8 or FBI covers you for all contact on that individual except Tax credits (unless they've signed that bit too). The fact is HMRC haven't linked the records properly. Next time ask if the form specifically separates SA and PAYE and seewhat they say to that. also not your responsibility to get it sorted with CAAT.

I had one last week where having passed security i was told they couldn't speak to me any furher because as of that day we were no longer agent. The client confirmed nothing rescinded and even rang HMRC to confirm but they would only speak to me "once" following that. Great eh?




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I know, I know, very frustrating.



I was discussing this issue in my office this morning and I googled 'sayno to 0870'. I input HMRC and a long list of specific office numbers came up. I haven't tried any, but thought it might be useful for someone who's frustrated with HMRC's non-answering tactics.

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Taxpayers Charter

A broken charter promise.

A charter that's hardly worth the paper that's written on given that the charter has no compensation provisions, and no specific charter promises such as :

How quickly VAT registrations will e dealt withHow quickly UTRs will be issued for new partnershipsHow quickly 'phone lines will be answeredHow quickly post will be dealt withHow accurate dates on letters issued by HMRC will be

quote from above:-

Do all we can to keep the cost of dealing with us as low as possible

We aim to take up as little of your time and money as we can.

A broken charter promise.

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Sorry all that's just frustration with "sorry all our advisors are busy right now please try later" line, used to be called VAT Helpline but i haven't had any help for ages, unless you count helping me to an early grave.

When will someone take responsibility for this shambles. I have resorted to e,mailing via their website in order to simply ask,"does anyone answer the phone on the VAT Helpline?".

I'm not expecting a response within the lightning fast 14 day period.





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