It's January and tax agents need urgent answers from HMRC where their client is at risk of a penalty if tax forms can’t be submitted accurately or on time. In such cases they may reach for the phone and dial the Agent Helpline, or perhaps ask the HMRC Customer Support twitter feed.
The Agent dedicated helpline (0300 200 3311) is supposed to be reserved for tax agents who need to sort out issues relating to self assessment or PAYE for their clients. It's open on weekdays from 8am to 6pm, but recently there have been long waits of 30 minutes or more to have a call answered.
"I spent 46 minutes in a call queue the other day," said AccountingWEB member Mark Peters of the lengthy wait times.
The bug-bear for many tax agents is not just the wait to be answered, but when the call is picked up it has been transferred to the general SA helpline for taxpayers. The HMRC staff then seem unable to cope with the type of questions agents are asking. AccountingWEB member Cat's whiskers commented in a recent Any Answers Live session. "Operators have no idea you're an agent when they take the call."
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