The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is “still failing UK taxpayers” because of its “abysmal” performance in dealing with queries from taxpayers.
The cross-party committee of MPs stressed that the “unacceptable” quality of HMRC’s customer service is a “genuine threat” to the collection of tax revenues.
Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the PAC, said: “HMRC must rapidly improve its customer service, previously described by the PAC as abysmal and now even worse – to the extent it could be considered a genuine threat to tax collection.”
In the first half of the year HMRC only answered half of calls. In addition, only 39 percent of calls were answered within five minutes, well behind its 80 percent target. In 2014, approximately 72% of calls were answered.
Hillier said: “It beggars belief that, having made disappointing progress on tax evasion and avoidance, the taxman also seems incapable of running a satisfactory service for people trying to pay their fair share.”
The PAC also stressed that HMRC has not been strict enough on corporate tax evaders, stating that it is “woefully inadequate” for there to have only been 11 prosecutions for offshore tax evasion over the past five years.
HMRC was handed a list of 3,600 British people hiding money in Switzerland, yet only person involved has been prosecuted.
“This is a running theme for us: we have been saying for some time, we think there could be more prosecutions,” Hillier said. “A prosecution is public; it’s there for everyone to see”.
An HMRC spokesperson said in response to the comments by PAC: “We are disappointed that the Public Accounts Committee has overlooked HMRC’s record results, which include collecting a record £517bn in tax revenues.”