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CIOT releases survey gauging HMRC service levels

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The Chartered Institute of Taxation is again looking to better understand agents’ views with a new survey gauging public opinion of HMRC service levels.

8th Aug 2023
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A new survey from the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), which follows hot on the heels of a previous questionnaire focused on Making Tax Digital (MTD), hopes to “gather more granular data regarding members’ experiences” with HMRC and how their current service levels have impacted practices.

The survey asked respondents to rate their experiences across all of HMRC’s correspondence channels from “extremely good” to “extremely poor”.

Starting with HMRC’s telephony and webchat services, respondents were asked how often they reach an adviser, as well as how well that adviser can deal with the reason for contact. Respondents also have the opportunity to air their opinions of HMRC’s online services, rating their experience of day-to-day procedures such as obtaining agent authorisation via the Agent Services Account and registering a client for VAT.

Finally, the CIOT survey quizzed respondents on their feelings towards the much-maligned postal and email correspondence, with the question: “What is the longest period of time you have had to wait for a reply to correspondence sent to HMRC?” This has mirrored the general feeling of anger from the Any Answers community over waiting times.

Aside from its communications channels, the survey also hopes to gain a better understanding on the level of impact HMRC’s current service levels are having on agents, as well as asking how satisfied agents have been with the tax authority’s service levels overall.

HMRC’s charter commitments

The CIOT’s most recent survey arrived soon after HMRC’s own charter annual report, in which some of the lowest-scoring answers from those who participated related to responsiveness, getting things right and making agents’ lives easier.

Richard Wild, CIOT’s head of tax technical, said that HMRC’s charter report reflected what the CIOT was hearing from members regarding “the everyday time wasted by the challenges they face in interacting with HMRC.”

He continued: “The common theme throughout the comments was frustration with the cost of HMRC inefficiencies to taxpayers, agents and HMRC itself. Agents also indicated a low level of confidence in HMRC’s operatives.”

This lack of confidence, Wild argued, could potentially undermine HMRC’s ability to reach its charter objectives, and that “perceptions are unlikely to improve unless HMRC, at the highest level, fully embeds the charter into its thinking.”

Last week, the CIOT also released its findings from its previous survey on the impacts of MTD, with the results making for stark, yet unsurprising reading regarding the controversial project.

According to the report, a majority of those surveyed were “not at all comfortable” with a variety of aspects of the MTD project, leading to nearly 70% of respondents saying that the April 2026 deadline is an unrealistic deadline for completion.

Replies (11)

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By Hugo Fair
08th Aug 2023 21:15

It might have been a good idea to make it clearer that:
- the survey is still open ("The survey asked .." sounds like it was in the past);
- how to access it (the hyperlinked string of text isn't obvious); and
- when it closes for responses.

Having said which, whilst I encourage everyone to respond, it's hard to shake a sense that nothing short of nuclear catastrophe will cause HMRC to admit that anything's even slightly awry!

Thanks (8)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
Morph
By kevinringer
09th Aug 2023 09:53

HMRC is so far removed from reality, they completely disregard any criticism at all. Even criticism form the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office fails to have any impact whatsoever. An example: despite all the criticism from closing the SA/PAYE helpline, HMRC announce a 30% permanent reduction in future. It's as if HMRC is so insulated from the rest of the planet that nothing gets through. I doubt HMRC will take the slightest notice of the survey, but it still needs to be completely because it might give CIOT the evidence to go above HMRC to ministerial level.

Thanks (9)
Replying to kevinringer:
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By Moo
10th Aug 2023 17:17

'it might give CIOT the evidence to go above HMRC to ministerial level'
That will be a complete waste of time as most of those currently at ministerial level are aware that they will be out of a job some time in the next 18 months.
The profession as a whole (PBs and the foot soldiers) need to be making contact with the main opposition parties and warning them that the next government will be inheriting a shambles of tax administration.

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7om
By Tom 7000
09th Aug 2023 09:58

Why do you need a survey, just call and see how long it takes to answer the phone.........

Thanks (4)
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By Halex
09th Aug 2023 10:04

And here is a good example of a letter from HMRC dated 4th August 2023.

"We are sorry it has taken us so long to respond to the on-line form you submitted in October 2021.....
This request should have been submitted by letter but given the delay in response , we will overlook this."

Can you imagine telling a client that he should have put his request to you in a letter with a stamp instead of an email/phone call.

Thanks (8)
Replying to Halex:
Morph
By kevinringer
09th Aug 2023 10:12

The Professional Bodies are collating examples of HMRC's appalling service. This is such an example. You can find your PB contact in the last article in https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/agent-update-issue-110.

Thanks (4)
Replying to kevinringer:
Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
09th Aug 2023 21:31

Too little too late. What have the PB's being doing for the last 3 years?

Oh yes, the PB's are dominated by the big 4 who don't want to upset the Government and lose all their lucrative consulting work...

Thanks (3)
VAT
By Jason Croke
09th Aug 2023 15:22

I'm with kevinringer on this.

Waste of time filling in a survey, HMRC do not care, they have set themselves on a path that only they know the detail of and they are impervious to any form of attack from anyone.....sort of much like the current Conservative government who seem to everyday run roughshod over basic protocols and rules, just lie and carry on and HMRC are doing the exact same.

They lie constantly to the Public Accounts Committee and get away with it, they spout out statistics that show how much money they are recovering or how long it takes to answer a call and nobody questions it, nobody digs deeper.

When 11,000 VAT registrations were issued to a bloke in Wales, Harra stated this was normal and that none of the registrations had yet to appear fraudulent....of course they won't, the fraudsters need at least a couple of quarters to build up a big enough pot of VAT to do a runner with.

Lack of resources is a reason, but not an excuse. Even their online automated interactions have a human behind them and so it's not really an automated process, it's just a fancier version of sending an email or writing a letter. If HMRC are using AI, I've yet to see where.

Thanks (5)
Replying to Jason Croke:
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By Hugo Fair
09th Aug 2023 15:40

"If HMRC are using AI, I've yet to see where."

See if you can get hold of an MRI head scan of the Harra (although, as so often with HMRC, they don't seem to have progressed beyond the first letter of the acronym)!

Thanks (1)
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By Tom+Cross
09th Aug 2023 16:47

I think I'm more surprised that contributors (realistically) believe that HMRC will ever listen. As I've said before; they are civil servants, and in 100% of events, civil servants are always right. It's a given. One, which I'm personally sick of. In recent years, more often than not, they are wrong, and as an organisation, highly inefficient.

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By vinylnobbynobbs
09th Aug 2023 17:17

having looked at the survey i do not think it asks the right questions. I only ever use the agent "dedicated" line (40 minutes to answer a call today) as a last resort. i have only used online chat once to try and set up a CGT residence return account for a trust (with no success). It directed me to online guidance which was no use whatsoever.

When will HMRC realise that we do not want to telephone them but unfortunately have no choice.

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