New survey data from ACCA, a leading professional accountancy body, has revealed that UK accountants are struggling to work with HMRC services at even the most basic level.

In a survey of UK ACCA members, over half (52%) of respondents said HMRC service levels were negatively impacting productivity and efficiency, either directly or for their clients.

93% of survey respondents also reported that HMRC needed to make drastic improvements across at least three key areas including:

● Reduced call waiting times

● Improvements to call handling systems (such as call queue information and call back options)

● Improved communications (particularly greater use of email)

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HMRC service levels have become increasingly difficult to manage for many ACCA members in recent months. One respondent based in the South East region said: “I now resort to raising a formal complaint every time HMRC ignores its own deadlines. It’s the only way I get an actual outcome.”

Commenting on this, ACCA head of technical and strategic engagement, Glenn Collins, said: “Many of our members have raised with us, over a number of years, their struggles and difficulties in working effectively with HMRC services. There is often despair when accountants and financial professionals have exhausted all other routes and have to contact HMRC, as they know they are likely to end up wasting many hours sorting basic tax issues, costing time and money for themselves, their clients and also HMRC.

“The key changes ACCA is calling for in HMRC services are improvements to communications. More effective working with qualified accountants, more use of email, and an improvement in response times to all communications would greatly ease the difficulties our members have expressed.”

ACCA accountants raised many issues and concerns within the survey, such as struggling for weeks or even months to get simple actions dealt with such as VAT registration numbers and authorising a tax agent.

The difficulties experienced by respondents in working with HMRC for tax enquiries were summed up aptly by one respondent from London who said: “The inefficiencies of HMRC are costing the Government money.”