The Adjudicator’s Office has recently released its report for the year ended March 2014. It doesn’t make happy reading for HMRC.
The Adjudicator’s role is to investigate complaints from individuals and businesses who are unhappy about the way that HM Revenue & Customs had been handling their complaint previously. The Adjudicator can look at complaints about: mistakes; unreasonable delays; poor and misleading advice; inappropriate HMRC staff behaviour; and the lack of the use of discretion.
Anyone questioning whether it is worth making a complaint to the Adjudicator should note that 90% of complaints about HMRC were upheld by the Adjudicator; in whole or in part. Additionally, the Adjudicator “successfully mediated” outcomes for 55% of the complaints they received about HMRC. This would suggest that Adjudicator persuaded HMRC uphold the complaint (at least in part) and possibly pay compensation, without the Adjudicator’s Office making a formal ruling. The Adjudicator recommended that HMRC give up tax of £1,900,000; reimburse costs of £181,000; and pay compensation for “distress and worry” of £247,000.
Once again, the adjudicator’s report was highly critical of how the tax office handles complaints itself. Bearing in mind that all of the complaints dealt with by the Adjudicator should already have been through HMRC’s own internal convoluted complaints process, one would expect that the number of successful complaints then brought before the Adjudicator would be minimal; rather than quite the opposite. The Adjudicator said that HMRC had “no room for complacency“. She complained that the tax authority often displayed “no sense of urgency when making decisions“, and often did “not appreciate the impact” of its actions. On a more positive note, she stated that there had been a recent reduction in HMRC complaints, partly due to HMRC taking the matter will seriously and instigating “a nationwide complaints transformation programme“.
Pursuing a formal complaint can be a soul destroying task – but a very large percentage of complaints are upheld, and it can lead to worthwhile compensation payments.
Lynam Tax Dispute Experts have decades of experience in sorting out contentious issues with the taxman. If you need help in dealing with HMRC or are considering making a complaint then: for a free and totally confidential discussion call:
Paul Lynam: 0845 643 9997
Andrew Nutbrown: 07718 778710