14 September 2015 13:30
Callers complain on Twitter over HMRC delays
Thousands of people have taken to social media in the past year to complain about the time they have had to spend waiting to speak to someone at HMRC, the UK's tax authority.
While official figures suggest an average wait of ten minutes, the study from Citizens Advice shows many people are waiting longer. The average wait was 47 minutes; one person tweeted that they had tried to get through to HMRC on four occasions and waited an hour each time.
Citizens Advice looked at complaints made to the @HMRCgovuk Twitter account between September 2014 and August 2015, after people seeking help from the charity reported that they had not been able to get through to HMRC on the phone. The charity has helped with 295,000 HMRC-related queries in the past 12 months.
Three out of four of these cases specifically relate to tax credits, the others include income tax, National Insurance Contributions and Child Benefit. In addition, every month 67,000 people visit the tax credit pages of the Citizens Advice website making it the third most visited section of the site.
HMRC phones lines are 0300 numbers meaning calls are charged at the same rate as a standard landline call. If a person is waiting 47 minutes it could cost them £4.66.
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive, said:
"People are paying the price for not getting through to HMRC. From fines for not completing a tax return in time to under or overpayments for tax credits, people can be left out of pocket because they cannot speak to HMRC on the phone."
She added: "We have consistently raised this issue with the Government. But evidence from across the Citizens Advice service, and our new research, shows HMRC is still failing to provide a timely service."