As HMRC gets ready for its busiest busy period for enquiries in the run-up to the tax return deadline, an undercover test has found HMRC’s tax helplines are still performing poorly, with nearly a third of calls cut off because the system was too busy, and long waits for those who do get through say Harris & Co accountants Northampton
Consumer organisation Which? carried out an assessment of HMRC response rates, following complaints from its members about difficulties in contacting the department. Its researchers made 100 calls to the main HMRC helplines, covering for self-assessment for general queries, spaced out across a week and at different times of the day.
Of the calls made, 29% were cut off before the caller got through to an adviser, with the automated switchboard providing the message: "We"re very busy right now...We"re sorry we can"t deal with your call at the moment. Goodbye."
Which? also reported callers had some difficulty in using HMRC’s voice recognition system for calls, which was brought in to replace numbered options in a bid to cut overall call times by directing enquirers to an appropriate adviser.
Callers found that the voice-recognition system understood obvious tax terms quickly, but more general questions sometimes caused problems.