Mid-August, and it appears that most of HMRC is on holiday as processing times have slowed down to a crawl. This has implications for your clients who are waiting for tax repayments, but it doesn’t stop the HMRC machine from spewing out incorrect tax demands as we explain below. We also have an update on the direct recovery of debt rules which will be arriving at a bank near you this Autumn. 

HMRC performance

When you send a letter or tax return to HMRC you expect it to be dealt within a reasonable time. HMRC’s target for dealing with post is to clear 80% within 15 working days, and 95% within 40 working days, but its quarterly performance reports show those targets are not being achieved.
In fact accountants are reporting that HMRC taking over 15 weeks to deal withletters. Repayment claims for tax deducted under PAYE, or under self-assessment,are taking at least six months to be paid, and the HMRC call centre says thatclaims submitted in April 2015 will not be processed until January 2016 – that’s aneight month delay!
So what can be done? Not a lot if your claim or letter is already in the system. You can raise the issue as a complaint with HMRC and suggest your client writes to their MP (who is also on holiday). You may consider lodging the delay on a tax issues forum such as operated by CIOT or ICPA. However, HMRC is aware that its post handling is not up to scratch as it reports in the Working Together in the latest Agent Update (no. 49). It says it is recruiting more staff to deal with thebacklog.
In the future the only way to get a response within a reasonable time from HMRC is to submit tax repayment claims online. If the claim relates to CIS tax there is a list of tips to follow which may speed-up the repayment (see below). Your letters regarding PAYE or self-assessment may get a quicker response if you use standard headings as suggested by HMRC, this allows the staff to send the letter to the right place in the organisation.  

This is an
extract from our tax tips newsletter dated 13 August 2015
(5 days before we publish an extract on this blog). The newsletter
itself contained links to related source material for this story and the
other two topical, timely and commercial tax tips. It’s clearly written
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