HMRC phone delays Furious taxpayers face fines as they are forced to sit on hold – as civil servants are still allowed WFH

  • People reported waiting more than an hour to speak to HMRC advisers
  • comes amid a rush to submit tax returns before the January 31 deadline
  • Civil servants of government department enjoy liberal WFH policy

Thousands of taxpayers are facing fines due to HMRC phone delays as it is learned government department civil servants are working from home.

Yesterday and again today there were reports of people waiting on the phone line for over an hour as they waited for a call handler to answer their questions.

Others claimed they were cut off before receiving a response, as many rushed to receive their tax returns before the January 31 deadline.

Those who do not file before the cut-off point face a minimum £100 fixed penalty.

HMRC department building in Whitehall, central London

Furious taxpayers complain of wasting hours on phone

Furious taxpayers complain of wasting hours on phone

Meanwhile, lawmakers have hit out at the department’s work from home police, which allows staff to spend at least two days out of the office a week.

HMRC had the lowest office occupancy rate of any Whitehall department except the Foreign Office last year, official figures show.

Government figures showed it to be as low as nine per cent and no more than 61 per cent.

It comes after an HMRC computer fault in early December left almost 100,000 callers switched off phone lines and online services.

Harriet Baldwin, chair of the Commons Treasury Committee, said an inquiry into the reported failures would be launched when MPs return from the Christmas break on 9 January.

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There were reports of people waiting on phone lines for over an hour as they waited for a call handler to answer their questions

There were reports of people waiting on phone lines for over an hour as they waited for a call handler to answer their questions

HMRC’s customer support Twitter feed has been flooded with complaints, with callers being put on hold for ‘around two hours’ before being disconnected without speaking to an advisor.

Another said: ‘Talking to HMRC is impossible these days. I’ve spent an entire afternoon on hold, and get disconnected every time after about 25 minutes.’

A third user wrote, “Three calls today 58 mins 59 mins 55 mins, still no answer, worse service never got.”

A fourth was added; ‘Stop issuing penalty notices when you are ridiculously understaffed. I spent 95 minutes today waiting for someone to pick up the phone and still the issues of 2020 are unresolved. I have now been asked to write a letter #its2023’.

The department introduced a flexible work policy last summer, allowing employees to work from home two days a week.

Since it arrived, the average call waiting time has increased from eight minutes and 45 seconds to 14 minutes and 17 seconds, official data showed in October.

Yesterday, HMRC reported Wire There was ‘no link’ between service performance and working from home.

Over 12 million taxpayers are expected to file returns for the 2021-22 tax year by January 31.

Some 42,500 people opted to look into 2023 by submitting their returns on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

Those who miss the deadline may face an initial £100 fixed penalty even if there is no tax to pay, with further charges being levied thereafter.

The revenue body said it will deal leniently with genuine excusers, as it focuses on those who consistently fail to complete their tax returns and willfully evade tax.

HMRC has been contacted for further comment.

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