Some tips for successful complaints
Sometimes tax can seem to be all about rules. But there is another aspect to dealing with HMRC: service standards. HMRC has a published charter (Your Charter) which sets out what it expects from you, and what you can expect in return.
You can expect HMRC to:
- Respect you
- Help and support you to get things right
- Treat you as honest
- Treat you even-handedly
- Be professional and act with integrity
- Tackle people who deliberately break the rules and challenge those who bend the rules
- Protect your information and respect your privacy
- Accept that someone else can represent you
- Do all they can to keep the cost of dealing with them as low as possible
In return, HMRC expects you to:
- Be honest
- Respect HMRC staff
- Take care to get things right
When things go wrong
But sometimes things go wrong. If this happens you may want to consider a complaint. There is guidance on how to do this on the Gov.uk website. It will usually be best to raise your concerns as soon as possible. Try to keep a note of who you have contacted at HMRC, when and how – by phone, or letter, or structured email. Keep copies of any letters you send, and a note of anything discussed over the phone, with details of the date and time of the call, and the name of the person you spoke to.
Steps to putting things right
Be clear about the difference between a tax dispute, and a tax complaint. If you have a dispute, then you have a right of appeal – and need to follow the appeal route to the tax tribunal. If you have a complaint, where you think that HMRC’s service to you has been inadequate, the procedure is different, and less formal.
A good way to see how this works in practice, is to look at the case studies in the Adjudicator’s Office report. The Adjudicator deals with complaints about HMRC. You need to follow a series of steps before you can complain to the Adjudicator. These are set out of the Adjudicator’s website here.
What areas cause problems?
PAYE issues, such as underpayments of tax, due to tax code errors, and tax credits are recurrent areas of complaint.
What to do next
Perhaps the best way to understand complaints is to look at the Adjudicator’s Office report. The latest report can be accessed here.