Taxation: Complaints

Treasury written question – answered at on 22 March 2022.

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Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard Conservative, Blackpool North and Cleveleys

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many complaints his Department has received about deeds or letters of assignment in (a) 2019-20, (b) 2020-21 and (c) 2021-22 to date; and what assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of HMRC's complaint handling procedure in respect of the validity of a deed or letter of assignment.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The table below shows the complaints relating to Deed of Assignment received over the last 3 years at each complaints stage. Please note there could be small numbers of additional complaints which have not clearly been designated within HMRC’s complaints handling system, but which do relate to the same issue. A manual review would be required to identify those additional complaints, which was not possible in the time available.

Tier 1

Tier 2

Adjudicator

2019-20

137

4

0

2020 -21

272

9

3

2021 - YTD

338

19

1

Following an increase in complaints in relation to the validity of deeds or letters of assignment, HMRC has reviewed its complaint handling for these cases. Following a review with appropriate stakeholders, HMRC investigates by:

  • Obtaining the history of the case and as many facts as possible from the customer. Where the customer does not believe they completed an assignment or are unhappy with the service they received, including the fees they were charged, they initially ask them to take that up with the company. HMRC suggest what information they should obtain from the agent, such as the IP address the assignment was sent from. Unfortunately, customers do not always recall or realise what they have signed up for.
  • Contacting the agent concerned to obtain their version of events if the customer has not been able to contact the agent or does not receive a response. HMRC may also contact the agent if the customer remains dissatisfied.
  • Reaching a balanced view about what has happened and what action needs to be taken next.

HMRC do not accredit or in any way approve agents and take firm action against any who are not complying with the law.

HMRC has announced its intention to run a consultation this year on ways to tackle the high costs to customers who claim tax refunds. The consultation is part of HMRC’s work on raising standards in the tax advice market. A range of individuals and consumer interest groups have raised concerns that customers are being charged excessive amounts by some agents for claiming routine tax repayments on their behalf and that the terms under which services are provided are not made clear. The aim of the consultation is to seek wider views on the scope of the problem and consider potential solutions.

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