Monday, September 22, 2008

HMRC's dedicated agent phone lines

Over 25 years ago when I started working in the tax world we could all phone our local tax offices. If we had a simple query it was quite easy to speak to someone familiar with the taxpayer client in question.

In recent years this has become less and less easy as tax offices have closed and taxpayer records have moved to central locations. Also we have had to endure HMRC call centres whose primary role is to assist taxpayers. As a result the hardworking HMRC staff involved were not best suited to respond to calls from accountants and tax advisers. As a result practitioners have been complaining for some years now about the time they are forced to waste trying to reach someone who can help them when they call HMRC.

HMRC have been attempting to find solution and are now rolling out new facilities for tax agents (ie: accountants and tax advisers). A detailed press release recently provided full details of the new procedures concerning Agent Dedicated and Priority lines

The new Agent Dedicated Lines are intended for all agent enquiries for taxpayer-specific calls about Self Assessment and PAYE (Pay As You Earn) for individuals and partnership matters.

One of the objectives here is to encourage agents to use dedicated agent priority lines (using local rate 0845 numbers). The intention is that such calls will be given priority and answered faster by an adviser who has at least 12 months experience. If necessary you will be transferred to technicians to ensure your query is answered wherever possible during your first call.

Feedback to date by reference to a trial run at East Kilbride and Bradford Contact Centres since just before last Xmas, suggest that the new approach is a 'significant improvement'. That may not be saying very much of course.

What experiences have you had calling the dedicated agent phone lines? Please add comments to this thread.

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