Several professional bodies have joined forces and written an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, objurgating HMRC services ahead of the spring budget announcement.
Combined the professional bodies represent hundreds of thousands of professional accountants who provide services to all manor of organisations from SME's to multinationals.
In the open letter sent on 1st March 2023, the bodies address that "customer service levels delivered by HMRC have fallen to an unacceptably low level" adding that "This has significant ramifications for taxpayers, business owners and their agents who are trying to comply with their tax obligations but need to be able to interact with the tax authority in a timely and efficient way."
The signatories ruthlessly criticise HMRC services quoting that "there have been instances recorded where HMRC have “simply closed its telephone line when it could not cope with demand" adding that "At a time of economic hardship, this not only affects the amount we can spend on public services, but it also severely restricts economic growth."
The letter further notes that The Public Accounts Committee recently claimed that £42 billion in taxes have not been collected which would be the "equivalent of paying
the annual wages of three quarters of staff in the NHS." Furthermore HMRC customer service staff numbers have been cut by 24 per cent in the past five years.
They continue by adding that "We increasingly hear from our members about the severe delays, business disruption and frustration that has become a regular occurrence when dealing with HMRC."
It is also recognised within the letter that professional bodies also have a part to play in raising the standards of the profession given that more that £9 Billion of the tax gap is in part attributed to taxpayer error.
A third of tax agents do not currently belong to a professional body, but it is the responsibility of the hiring business to ensure that their accountants and tax agents are members of a professional body, which gives them additional security by means of the bodies strong codes of ethics and practice.
The open letter was signed by Sarah Beale, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Accounting Technicians, Abdul Goffar, Director, Association of Chartered Certified, Accountants UK Jane Ashton, Chief Executive, Association of Taxation Technicians, Andrew Harding, Secretary General, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Ken Pullar, Chief Executive Officer, Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals, Helen Whiteman, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Taxation, Michael Izza, Chief Executive, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Bruce Cartwright, Chief Executive, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, Ami Copeland, CEO, Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, Mark Walley
You can read the full letter here