An investigation by MPs into Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has revealed a poorly run operation that is rapidly losing any semblance of trust the public may previously have held.
A group of MPs led the investigation and consulted some of the country's most respected tax experts. They learned that HMRC has effectively become a shambles, with incidences of incompetence worryingly rife.
Considering the public are often hit with heavy fines if they make errors relating to tax, it is impossible to imagine a worse scenario than a tax body that doesn’t practice what it preaches.
According to the consultants, HMRC staff are under qualified and poorly trained, they consistently give out bad advice, often lose important documents and in many cases simply do not know what they are doing. One of the MPs involved in the investigation, Andrew Tyrie, described HMRC as “a tax system whose very integrity is at risk”.
Apparently, the seeds for these astonishing problems were first sown in 2005 when HMRC merged with the Inland Revenue. Since then a fleet of skilled, and respected, employees have left HMRC, only for inadequate replacements to be brought in.
The finance experts brought in to help the MP investigation highlighted a number of incidences form their own experiences that drum home the sorry state HMRC is in. Paul Aplin, chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said: “We regularly wait two to three months for a reply to a letter. When you chase, the answer that you regularly get is, "We can't find the letter"”
Mr Aplin also drummed home the problems that regular citizens who are unable to seek financial assitance could encounter: “They wouldn't have a clue if their tax coding was right or wrong, but what they do have is an absolute trust that a Government department would get it right.”
HMRC have also been heavily criticised for their 0845 phone number, which can cost 40p a minute form mobile phones.
The investigation has been labelled as a look at the administration and effectiveness of HMRC. Confronted with the shocking findings an HMRC spokesman said: “We are determined to improve those areas of our business that are currently not delivering the quality of service to which we aspire.