Budget: Investment in HMRC customer service is a step in the right direction

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed today’s announcement that the Government is investing £71 million to make it quicker and easier for individuals and small businesses to deal with HMRC, but says that this investment must lead to an improvement in HMRC’s service standards.

It has been announced that taxpayers will be able to contact HMRC quicker and at a time convenient to them, with improved call waiting times, a new secure email service, and phone lines and web-chat open 7 days a week from April 2017. HMRC will also introduce new measures to provide help and support for businesses, including a dedicated phone service and online forum for new businesses and self-employed individuals.

Commenting on the announcement, Chris Jones, CIOT President, said:

”This investment is a definite step in the right direction. It is imperative that it puts a stop to the decline in service standards at HMRC that we have witnessed over the last few years, and which we feared would be affected even further by the reductions in resources at HMRC announced at the time of the Autumn Statement.

“This investment will be essential to help taxpayers get to grips with their new digital reporting requirements as HMRC’s Making Tax Digital programme is rolled out over the next 4 years.  If Making Tax Digital is to proceed as planned, and on time, then the Government must make sufficient resources available to ensure that high quality education and support is available to every taxpayer who needs it.”

Notes for editors

1.Background

At Autumn Statement 2015 it was announced then that there would be a headline 21% reduction in baseline resource costs at HMRC delivered through digitalisation of tax collection and a smaller but more highly skilled workforce.

2.The Chartered Institute of Taxation

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. Through our Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), the CIOT has a particular focus on improving the tax system, including tax credits and benefits, for the unrepresented taxpayer.

The CIOT draws on our members’ experience in private practice, commerce and industry, government and academia to improve tax administration and propose and explain how tax policy objectives can most effectively be achieved. We also link to, and draw on, similar leading professional tax bodies in other countries.  The CIOT’s comments and recommendations on tax issues are made in line with our charitable objectives: we are politically neutral in our work.