HMRC has told agents that it has identified delays in issuing repayments due under self assessment rules, which is cited along with continuing concerns about poor levels of service in responding to letters and phone calls, in the latest official update
HMRC’s October-November agent update details the priority issues identified by representatives of the professional bodies on the issues overview group (IOG) which meets with tax officials to discuss areas of concern.
The delays being reported in issuing repayments for taxpayers using self assessment are marked as a new item. HMRC says it is working with the professional bodies ‘to establish the precise nature of the problem’.
Half of the items on the priority list relate to problems with contacting HMRC. The working together group reports it has undertaken an in-depth review of instances of delays in issuing correspondence. A meeting with the professional body representatives of the IOG is being arranged to discuss the analysis and to identify the specific areas where action is needed.
With regard to postal delays, HMRC says it is training new recruits for customer adviser teams who will help resolve this issue. While these new recruits are trained during the run up to the self assessment deadline for paper returns, HMRC say it is prioritising post items where taxpayers are due a repayment or have a payment to make.
HMRC is also considering addressing the issues noted around telephone delays on non-agent dedicated lines by expanding the service in the evenings and at weekends when many taxpayers want to call. As it has done in the past two years HMRC moved extra staff from across HMRC to support customers in the run-up to the tax credit renewals in July to help meet the short-term peak in demand.
The latest update also highlights a specific issue with PAYE coding P2 not showing wk1/mth1 indicator. Agents do not receive a copy of the client’s P2 and rely on the information provided by the client and this can lead to confusion and discrepancies in the client’s liability when it is not known when an emergency or cumulative coding has been applied. HMRC acknowledges that although this issue affects a small percentage of the whole customer base, it still creates a large amount of contact.
On the plus side, HMRC said work to pre-populate pay, tax and P11D details onto HMRC versions of self assessment online tax returns is scheduled to start soon and versions are due to be released in the coming months, with commercial software following after April 2016.
In the meantime as most agents use commercial software to file their client’s tax return, HMRC says it is expanding the information agents can get from their client’s HMRC account to include pay, tax and P11D details. This will be ready shortly.
HMRC is also appealing for more volunteers to test the pre-release version of the planned Agent Online Self Serve (AOSS) live service. This remains open for volunteers until 11 December.
The October-November agent update is here
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