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Tax helplines "failing callers"

16 / 12 / 2014
Tax helplines A recent survey has discovered many callers are failing to get the help they need via government-run tax helplines.

Research by Which? found out 29 out of 100 callers were disconnected before being able to get tax advice. Also in many cases, people contacting the helpline were put on hold for an average of 18 minutes, with the longest delay for one caller being 41 minutes.

Which? conducted the study in the run-up to the self-assessment tax return deadline on January 31st and analysed calls made by people hoping to get help with tax return and general issues.

It was also discovered that there was a number of problems with the automated voice recognition systems designed to make sure calls were correctly handled.

"With large numbers of people soon to be seeking help with their self-assessment tax return, we want to see HMRC doing more to monitor and improve their call-waiting times," explained Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed the helpline services were not adequate, especially during peak times.

"We know that some of our customers can struggle to get through on our helplines at very busy times," explained a spokesperson for HMRC.

"This isn't good enough, and we are working hard to improve the range of services we provide," the spokesman added.

"This year we are introducing new technology to help us answer more calls quicker at busy times, and we are improving the digital services we offer so that more customers can find all they need online.

"There is more to do, and we are committed to improving the service we offer all of our customers at all times."

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