HMRC Frustration

Delays and errors

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Is it my imagination or is HMRC on a mission to disrupt my working days with errors and delays that I need to address and so keep me away from proper work. In the past week or so I have had a late Tax Return filing penalty for a client with a different reference (he has not been bankrupt so no refrerence change),  a late filing penalty for a deceased client where 2 months previously a letter was sent saying that Tax Returns for 2019/20 and 2020/21 would not be required, a tax calculation where the marriage allowance has been deducted from the recipient - the husband and deducted from his wife, 2 notices of further late company return filing penalties where HMRC have been advised up to 3 months ago that the companies are dormant and where dormant accounts have been lodged with Companies House and where no acknowledgement has been recived to earlier appeals, a simple assessment where an overpayment for 2019/20 was offset against brought forward arrears and which was then repaid to the client. There are many others too numerous to list. I know we can all make mistakes but this is taking the michael. It is virtually impossible getting through to HMRC on the phone unless you catch them at 8am or are prepared to sit and wait for over an hour and it seems that letters are taking 3 months or more to be dealt with - if they are dealt with at all!  It is a complete waste of my time and HMRC's and cannot all be down to covid and brexit. I am finding the whole business very frustrating at the moment. I know others have said something similar but how much time is it costing you - especially when it is difficult to bill a lot of this time to the client.   

Replies (12)

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By Jason Croke
24th Mar 2021 14:46

I don't think HMRC have adapted to remote home working. Sure, their staff are working from home, but it seems without a supervisor standing over them with a baseball bat, both quality and productivity have taken a dive.

I got a VAT number yesterday I applied for in October, it was an overseas business but part of a larger global company. I got a questionnaire emailed to me about a fortnight ago asking for more information, the questionnaire was addressed to a different business/different reference number.

I emailed it back a fortnight ago and got an email from a named Officer saying they will process it, called Friday last week asking where my VAT number was and told that they were still waiting for the questionnaire to be sent back to them, I forwarded the email from HMRC and today I get a VAT number.

This is just one of the many problems i think we're all experiencing, the helplines have 40m waits and when you get through they often cannot help, I think the technology is there and working.

I think HMRC staff aren't being managed very well by their managers, it feels like the wild west, don't worry about KPI's, quick responses, errors or even bothering to answer the phone, just blame Covid/WFH and that exonerates you for anything. If we all worked on that concept, we'd be out of business.

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By Tornado
24th Mar 2021 14:48

Yes, HMRC are falling apart. I have a number of issues with HMRC of various kinds but a mysterious one is a client who was sent a letter asking for information related to his new self-employment as a Director and giving him a UTR. The client has been in Self-Assessment for years as a paid director under PAYE but does submit a Tax Return each year using his UTR which is exactly the same as the 'new' one he has been given.

At first glance this might be just irritating but I am now suspicious that there is something more seriously wrong with HMRC data and this is backed up by reports from others of equally mysterious mistakes with data.

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By tracyannw
24th Mar 2021 15:09

Yes I totally agree and feel your pain it seems I spend most of most days dealing with HMRC problems and queries. I have clients whereby HMRC is holding errors on the account at their end and clients are being quoted 18 months for resolution! If that was the client that made an error or us as their agent we would be expected to fix the problem immediately and pay interest on any difference. HMRC are an absolute joke - even more so than normal!

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By codling
24th Mar 2021 15:14

Just had another client email with a 2021/22 coding. Error on MTA plus it was addressed to old address in Australia. HMRC were notified online of the change of address when he came back to the UK in 2019 and correct address is showing online! Presumably there is more than one database which are not linked for this to happen
It may be that I am over grumpy today but I am losing a lot of potentially productive time at the moment!
I can see that homeworking is part of the problem but it cannot disguise the fact that the legendary poor service we have experienced in the past has taken a further nosedive and I wish Jim Harra would own up to it.

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Replying to codling:
By Hugo Fair
24th Mar 2021 21:33

"Presumably there is more than one database which are not linked for this to happen."

This is both a cause and a symptom of many of the core deficiencies within HMRC.
A cause ... because there are so many disjointed systems, each of which often have multiple databases as a legacy of earlier systems that were never fully updated.
A symptom ... because this is what happens when operational need is subservient to policy-driven objectives (and only the latter are rewarded)

From a purely 'systems' perspective (let alone corporate culture and not valuing knowledge), HMRC have wholly failed to learn the lessons of the past (e.g. the attempt to amalgamate PAYE Tax and NICs databases), which is why RTI took so long to even start working and still creaks like an old barge when it encounters a swell. Development is only done piecemeal (a bit like taking a tower-block with subsidence problems and merely painting over cracks around windows for now). As long as a box can be ticked, everything is declared to be BAU and senior people move on (to different functions/depts or the House of Lords) ... and the problems continue to fester.

All that's happening now is that WFH is exposing the rotten foundations - and, as others have mentioned, a lack of experienced/willing management leaves the front-line staff to wither under fire. (For younger viewers, see the final part of the last Blackadder episode)!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
25th Mar 2021 06:56

Hugo Fair wrote:

(For younger viewers, see the final part of the last Blackadder episode)!


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By Refs1
24th Mar 2021 18:16

Two letters of complaints today sent saying “you are making us look incompetent to our clients”. Is this worse than before? Oh yes feel like an administrator not an accountant!

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By atleastisoundknowledgable...
24th Mar 2021 21:19

Since mid-Dec, I’ve raised 3 written complaints to HMRC. In the previous 14.5 years, I hadn’t raised any.

The only complaint that has been looked at came back as a “No because you didn’t reply to our email dated X with 14 days”. I sent a copy of our response, timed 2 minutes after their email. Passed up to Tier 2, god knows how long that’ll take to get looked at.

They are an absolute joke - Mrs ALISK thinks I make it up half the time when I tell her.

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Maddy Christopher
By Maddy Christopher
25th Mar 2021 09:30

Hi all,

Tallulah and I will be covering this story. We have contacted HMRC which seems to know little about the issue.

Any more information or commentary on this would be greatly appreciated. You can private message me if you have more information or wish to provide commentary.

Many thanks in advance,

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Replying to Maddy Christopher:
By codling
25th Mar 2021 14:18

Here is another to add to the list!
Solicitor filed IHT400 in May 2020 which included a valuation of a dwelling house by a reputable estate agent. Nothing heard for months despite the fact that there is supposedly a 12 week turnaround. The Personal Representative decides to sell the dwelling house at auction and it sells for about £85,000 more than the probate value. Letter sent to IHT Office advising this value should be substituted and asking for confirmation. Dilemma is that if not accepted by IHT Office then online CGT report needs to be made by personal representative. Further letter sent to IHT Office asking for urgent clearance. With the 30 day reporting requirement coming up I was asked to help sort out the online CGT Report, which was done and tax paid.
Letter received by solicitor yesterday giving clearance with the IHT value being the auction sale price. Therefore no CGT Report needed.
Now having to write to HMRC Admin of Estates to explain this and to ask for the CGT money back.
All of this could have been avoided with some sort of reasonably timed response from the IHT Office. The letter just received is the first communication from them in 10 months - disgraceful!
I will be suggesting that HMRC pay my fees.

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Replying to codling:
Maddy Christopher
By Maddy Christopher
26th Mar 2021 10:28
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By Cazzie B
25th Mar 2021 10:29

Our clients’ on-line account was hacked on 12th October and £36K was stolen. We informed HMRC on 19th October, also called On-Line services and asked them to put a stop on the account.

We noticed on 5th November that details had been changed on our clients account, email address and mobile phone. We changed the information back and called online services, we were given a call reference and password and was told they had put a block on the account, (we thought that was done on 19th October).

Our client then called HMRC on-line services to see if he could close the account down, (we had given him password and reference). To his horror, he was told he had recently called to get access to his account. It seems that the hacker had called HMRC on-line services, failed security twice before passing on the third attempt. How did he pass when there was a block on the account, with a reference and password? We logged on to find out he had changed the details back.

None of our calls were being returned, despite promises from HMRC that we would get a call back, finally got a letter late January to say account closed, here’s new UTR.

75yr old client, HMRC amends 2020 TR and demands £89K, due to an underpayment for a previous year of £59K in his tax code. Turns out it did not exist, but no explanation as to why it happened.

74yr old brother-in law of client (who is in nursing home). HMRC keep sending simple assessments for £900 tax due. Seems he has a van & fuel benefit. I keep removing, but they keep putting back. We know the problem is with the NI number but HMRC cannot contact the employer because that’s PAYE. PAYE will not give us details & the brother in law has not been issued a tax code, so cannot find out that way.

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