90% of complaints against HMRC upheld

An independent complaints review body has ordered HMRC to pay £4.4m in refunds and write-offs last year and upheld 94% of PAYE complaints.

The tax adjudicator reviews complaints against HMRC, as well as against the Valuation Office Agency and the Insolvency Service. The adjudicator’s annual report for 2013-14 shows that during the year over 2,000 complaints from HMRC customers were resolved, with 90% of these complaints being upheld either partially or substantially. The majority of complaints related to PAYE and were typically about mistakes, unreasonable delay, poor advice or inappropriate staff behaviour.

The adjudicator also reported that it is reasonable for customers to expect HMRC to be the experts in completion of their own forms, and expressed concerned that HMRC had given poor advice in some instances. The report criticized HMRC for not putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and highlighted they needed to be more aware of the direct impact their actions can have on a customer.

The total amount of redress paid by HMRC on the adjudicator’s recommendation was £4.4m, up from £1.2m the year before. The total includes tax credit overpayments written off, as well as costs reimbursed and compensatory payments.

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