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Contact with HMRC

How do you manage your time

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Since around April this year the amount of times I've had to contact various HMRC departments has increased significantly. Its taking longer to get through, the person on the other end of the phone sometimes is useless or you get cut off. There are long delays whilst they read through the notes, make notes or go and ask someone else.

I wondered how other accountants manage this? Almost every morning emails are waiting or phone calls come in from clients with problems that require contact with HMRC. As an example this morning there are three issues in my inbox I have to deal with. One a client is being debt chased for PAYE/CIS for period end 5th May Ltd Company and has more than enough to cover his CIS refund. A client has had his PAYE code changed after submitting his tax return and the code the system has produced is just rubbish. A client is being chased for VAT debt but there is more than enough to cover it in his Ltd Company CIS refund. The first and third issues I've already spent at least three hours in total over the last few weeks speaking with PAYE/CIS/Corp Tax and VAT, I thought these matters were resolved, one has been partly done the Corp Tax has been cleared but not the VAT. 

Ideas please on how others manage their contact time with HMRC, do you allocated a set time amount of time each day and carry the rest over to the next day? The volume I'm dealing at the moment is seriously impacting my fee paying work, contact with clients and my work life balance. 

Replies (14)

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Bramble
By Chris.Mann
19th Jun 2019 09:51

Regretfully, I think it's all part and parcel of present day practice life and, being entirely honest, there's little you can do. HMRC is only a shadow of the department it once was and, is obviously a grossly inefficient Government agency.

Is it possible that the current "interruptions" are a blip, seen out of context, due to (understandable) frustration and general anxiety?

Short of building in to your fee charging arrangements, an element of extraneous time, I can't think that there's much more you can do.

Obviously, if the additional "involvement" with HMRC is; substantial and entirely due to their negligence, then you could consider raising an additional professional fee account, which you would pass to your client and, in turn, seek recovery from HMRC.

Thanks (2)
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By bernard michael
19th Jun 2019 09:53

I generally speak to the agent's line who will sort a lot of things and can often transfer internally to save waiting in a queue on line
A good start point even if it is granny sucking eggs

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By airgeadagam
19th Jun 2019 12:51

If I'm not in a hurry I write a letter, stick on a stamp and wait for a reply.

The time saved from sitting on hold allows me to earn money which more than covers the cost of the stamp.

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By lesley.barnes
19th Jun 2019 15:36

Thank you for taking the time to reply. The more HMRC computerise and make efficiencies the more time it takes us accountants sorting the fall out. I'll just have to take it on the chin and try to limit the time I spend doing HMRC job. Their motto seems to be why do something once when you can do it three times.

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By Vaughan Blake1
19th Jun 2019 16:18

Having dealt with HMRC/HMIT for nearly 40 years on a daily basis, my rose tinted glasses view of the past doesn't seem to work. I remember dealing with the B'ham tax offices in the 80s on routine matters, unanswered phones, waiting for ages on hold, lost post and generally unhelpful people when the phone was answered.

Working with a chap who was married to a TOHG (nostalgia for the oldies!) she revealed that staff would shred their post to achieve their targets, put calls on hold whilst they chatted, then say they couldn't find the file when they hadn't looked.

But, you could speak to a tax inspector who could sort out the non routine stuff in an efficient and professional manner.

Nostalgia is not was it was!

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Replying to Vaughan Blake1:
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By Trish Baillie
25th Jun 2019 11:15

I WAS a TOHG but never shredded post to meet targets although I worked with a chap who locked the files for his difficult cases in a drawer in his desk! It only came to light when he was off ill for a few weeks, but nothing was done about it and the practice continued on his return.

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By johnhemming
19th Jun 2019 16:48

I must admit I find they are being really fast at the moment on some technical queries (relating to MTD). Last week I raised one at about 5.30pm and I had a response by 8am the next morning.

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Replying to johnhemming:
Bramble
By Chris.Mann
19th Jun 2019 20:40

I’m sorry to say John but I honestly think you have rose tinted glasses on, when it comes to HMRC? This is one of the most inefficient Government agencies and, at almost 63 years old, I speak from a “lifetime” of experience.

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Replying to Chris.Mann:
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By johnhemming
19th Jun 2019 22:25

I accept that you are three years older than me (probably to the nearest year) and therefore you have more life experience.

However, I have a lot of experience of public authorities. (possibly more than you because inter alia for 8 years I was part of the leadership team of a large local authority, initially as Deputy Leader) I accept there are some problems within HMRC, but I have seen much worse and I believe that I should congratulate them when they do a good job.

I don't think it is fair to only criticise HMRC. I have found the development department very responsive in the last week. I only have one material problem open with them (which is highlighed on AWeb), but they are clearly looking at it.

I don't have a special phone number. What I do, however, is filter issues so that I only raise with them issues that matter and cannot be otherwise resolved.

Also I am only really dealing with MTD issues when it comes to HMRC.

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Replying to johnhemming:
Bramble
By Chris.Mann
20th Jun 2019 10:13

I hope that I'm not seen as singling you out John? I certainly have no intention of that. However, I'm sure you follow other comments, here on Aweb and, very regretfully, this - https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/are-hmrc-grinding-to-a-halt - is a clip of what actually occurs, across private practices, each and every day. It is nothing short of culpable negligence, in my opinion. More worrying, the trend of stupidity is seemingly reflected across the political system, in the UK.

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Replying to Chris.Mann:
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By johnhemming
20th Jun 2019 10:42

It is obvious that HMRC is a large organisation. In some areas things are moving very slowly. However, particularly in the development environment I am finding they respond quite quickly.

They probably do need some more staff in some areas, but I can see why they would like to be able to use APIs to handle more and more things.

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Replying to johnhemming:
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By JoF
19th Jun 2019 20:52

I made the assumption that you are talking to a development team of some sort in HMRC, would that be the case? Therefore why they respond quicker?

Or perhaps have access to a phone number that the rest of us mere mortals cannot access.

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
19th Jun 2019 17:02

Stick the call to them on monitor on the phone and just get on with other work until someone answers at their end or the call drops. Just keep rinsing and repeating. If really keen set a timer to measure how long it all takes. Finally, retire from practice- you know it makes sense .(though will still need to call them every so often re the day job, but likely only 2-3 times a year at worst)

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By JDBENJAMIN
25th Jun 2019 12:13

Just don't phone them! Use structured emails and letters. If they ignore it, write a reminder, then a final demand for action, then a formal complaint. I have found that sequence always gets a result in the end, and you have a record of exactly what was said and when.

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