When will HMRC adopt email!

With the recent announcement of increases in postage prices it has occurred to me that my biggest usage of postage is to HMRC. They continue to push the use of electronic filing but seem determined to use postage (snail mail) and mailing centres which basically hindered communications and cost taxpayers and their agents money.

I am well aware that on occasions HMRC staff will use email to communicate with an agent, but in my experience this is very much the exception not the rule. What needs to be done to persuade HMRC to join the rest of the world in their methods of communication? There was a recent thread about PAYE notices on the HMRC website but why can't they be mailed direct to the agent rather than a confusing and inefficient 2 stage process.

Come on HMRC - email can be used externally to communicate with agents. You used to collect the email addresses although I have a suspicion that you are not so keen to do so now.  

Comments

When will HMRC adopt e-mail!

janet.gee | | Permalink

Hear hear!

 

ShirleyM's picture

I agree    2 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

We are being forced by HMRC to do the maximum possible via electronic means, and I think very few agents (if any) would prefer post if email was available.

Not only is it cheaper, and quicker, but if we use the delivery/read notifications we can actually be confident that the communication has arrived and been read, unlike the mail which regularly seems to disappear down a black hole in HMRC somewhere.

If they really want to work 'with' agents then why are they so reluctant to allow electronic communication?

In progress?

rkpgreen | | Permalink

As I understand it, an email pilot is already in progress:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/hmrc-service-del.htm

Don't ask don't get

fozia | | Permalink

I have noticed more recently in tax enquiries and vat enquiries when I have asked if I can email information rather than post, they have been forthcoming.  However, I think it is only in cases where you have a named inspector working on a particular case.  Otherwise they prefer everything to go centrally to that great big pile of post they have, to be logged (or lost) and then re-directed (5 weeks later) to the relevant department!!!

Progress eh?!

 

 

carnmores's picture

i fax them all the time from my desktop never write if there is

carnmores | | Permalink

a fax number using efax - its cheaper then by post and also makes me keep electronic copies as you send a pdf - also i get confirmation that the fax has arrived so no fannying about with HMRC

Pilot

stacey03 | | Permalink

We are part of the pilot scheme due to start any day, so hopefully it won't be too long. As one of the replies states, if you are corresponding with a particular department or person, they will often accept emails if you ask. Although there are a few 'old school' who can't use them and will still reply in writing to an email you send!

johnjenkins's picture

If they allowed us e-mail privileges

johnjenkins | | Permalink

can you imagine how many they would receive every day. With technology comes increased queries that need to be answered. So outcome of pilot will be all normal e-mails to central server, then distributed. If you're lucky enough to get someone to reply then hey presto, if not it will be the normal "this is a computer generated e-mail, you're query is being looked at but do not reply to this e-mail".

Agree with John...

justsotax | | Permalink

given the potential increase in correspondence 'traffic' by using email at the same time that they have a reduction in staff I can't see how they will actually want to adopt this.

 

Of course for inspectors I have no doubt they benefit from getting an email, generally this will enable them to carryout their enquiry much quicker, and hasten a result (one way or the other).  For the rest of the guys at the call centre it just adds to the backlog of things they should be dealing with.

 

So potential benefits for client/agent - loads....

Benefits for Revenue - few and far between.....

 

Result - unlikely to proceed beyond the pilot.....

RebeccaBenneyworth's picture

Commitment to email

RebeccaBenneyworth | | Permalink

It may be a while in coming, but there is a real desire to deliver two way email if at all possible. There are a lot of issues to be resolved, and it would be brilliant if any involved in the pilot could let us know how it went. I don't think it would be fair to criticise it when it is still in development phase, but both this and the shared workspace idea are on the medium term aganda.

Shared electronic workspace is where a case is worked by both sides "in the computer" with both sides having access to an area in which to put correspondence, computations and other things. If anyone uses "Dropbox" it is a bit like a shared space in that, but obviously hosted on HMRC's computer systems for security. You log in to post new material and look at material put there by the officer working the case. This is one of the offerings under self serve. However, it is only really useful in an ongoing case, such as an enquiry. In the case of one off issues, I guess email and DIY (again self serve) are the best way forward.

Concluding enquiries speedily is in everyone's interest and is a key HMRC priority!

johnjenkins's picture

It really is quite amazing

johnjenkins | | Permalink

that with most people doing business with e-mails etc. how far HMRC is behind. It is because of this (scenario - tax inspector well up on computers doing all his bits and pieces at home, then goes to work and is so limited as to what can be done.) that frustration and even complacency will creep in. This from an organisation that forces us to computerise more and more. You can e-mail DC but you can't e-mail someone at Longbenton to get a problem with CIS sorted. Priceless. 

Query ticketing

mikewhit | | Permalink

What would be more helpful is a scheme where you could raise a ticket on an enquiry which you could then track and get updated online. The ticket itself could be passed around and progressed at HMRC to whomsoever as required to complete the transaction. All the history would be available to the staff to avoid having to repeat everything.

Actually this sounds a bit like Rebecca's shared workspace, I was coming from the workflow/project tracking point of view.

Another thing would be phone callback as BT does; someone phones you back once they have a person available, saves being on hold (sometimes on a mobile!) and eventually giving up.

I wouldn't mind so much if it just rang until answered, thereby not costing any money !

johnjenkins's picture

The problem with ticketing

johnjenkins | | Permalink

is that not all HMRC computers talk to each other. Collectors aren't allowed to contact Longbenton to offset so what chance has a ticket got. Can you imagine "go to checkpoint a to collect the answer to your query, sorry make that  B no sorry no staff make it g or try m to be on the safe side".

Trouble is with HMRC all the good ideas get altered or totally destroyed.

So to be honest, john ...

mikewhit | | Permalink

The problem is not with Ticketing per se, but with the HMRC organisation.

Would it not be better to fix (at least in an 80:20 fashion) the internal issues there first of all, before addressing any technology-related "improvements" which from what you say, would just be papering over the cracks.

johnjenkins's picture

Any idea is not the problem

johnjenkins | | Permalink

as you quite rightly say the problem lies with an organisation that is so far behind that the people working for it have become frustrated and and drained. So the basics -as it were- aren't there to cope with any proposals to make it work better. I have often asked the question, do we really need HMRC? To you and I e-mail is second nature. In fact, wrongly, I tend to have conversations on e-mail, like this one, without directing it at you mikewhit. Maybe the powers that be don't want the same thing happening within HMRC.

One way emails..

Chris Floyd | | Permalink

In dealing with a recent enquiry, I was able to email the inspector, but he claimed that he was unable to respond by email unless the clinet gave express permission for him to do so (depsite 64-8 being in place)!  Anyone else had anything similar?

Because e-mail is not secure, don't you know

trevv69 | | Permalink

Recently had cause to phone HMRC for a form (not available on the web), which arrived accompanied by another form which, apparently, had to be returned in order to authorise HMRC to contact by e-mail. Key thing is the recipient had to sign to acknowledge that e-mail is not secure. In effect it's your responsibility if anything private goes astray between them and you.

It's the paranoid end of the spectrum of recognising the risks, but, frankly, given how badly the press and public respond to leaks of private data by HMRC and similar bodies, it's hardly surpising.

BTw - first contribution after years of lurking.

Have just joined the email pilot scheme ...

Jimlad | | Permalink

... and have to say that I am dissapointed that anything to do with Corporation Tax is excluded from the scheme.  No doubt if the pilot is successful then it would be rolled out to include CT eventually, but it is currently particularly frustrating because our local CT office is permanently engaged when telephoning, so email would have been a particular boon.

Oh well, I am sure that there are reasons.

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