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HMRC keep telephone callers waiting 30 minutes

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HMRC has come under attack over the time it takes to answer phone calls from taxpayers.

HMRC has come under attack from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) about the time it takes to answer phone calls from taxpayers.

The group claims that over recent years HMRC have consistently failed to answer their telephone helplines in a reasonable time-scale.

Back in 1997/98 the Inland Revenue aimed to answer a telephone call within 30 seconds 91% of the time. But now, in 2012/13, you can spend four times as much time pushing buttons before you even get in a queue. The subsequent wait can be excessively costly for the caller on a low income. LITRG has been campaigning to get HMRC to improve their telephone service and recently undertook some mystery shopping.

On Tuesday 10 April 2012, it made three calls to HMRC helplines using the routes taken by an ordinary PAYE caller, a pensioner and a tax credit claimant. On average the wait was 29 minutes. On a PAYG mobile that could have cost £11.60 per call, which could equate to half a day’s income for a pensioner.

LITRG suggests that people who cannot get through to the HMRC after a short period of waiting should make a note of when they rang. And if any adverse consequences occur because they were not able to do what HMRC required them to do, they should complain and ask to be compensated.