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Around 90 per cent of complaints made against the taxman were at least ‘partially upheld’ last year, according to the latest report from the Adjudicator’s Office. Within this, around 50% were ‘substantially upheld’ across the year 2013/14.
As a result of these complaints, HMRC paid out an estimated £4 million, returning tax that it had claimed incorrectly as well as redress payments to taxpayers whose complaints reached the Adjudicator’s Office. The office is intended to provide impartial investigations into complaints which are brought up by taxpayers and businesses who are unsatisfied with the handling of their complaints by HMRC, the Valuation Office or the Insolvency Service. If a citizen has already made a complaint to one of these organisations and is not happy with the outcome, they can request a formal review. If they are still not satisfied following this, that is when their complaint is taken to the Adjudicator’s Office who review the case and decide whether to uphold.
If the office decides to uphold the complaint, it can be settled by mediation, where both parties reach an agreement. In 2013/14, 55% of complaints were settled in this way. If this fails, the complaints can be settled by recommendation. Occasionally, the complaint will not be upheld at all, in which case, if you can provide new evidence you can ask it to be reconsidered.
Most of the £4 million that was paid to taxpayers came from liability given up where HMRC had taken too much money in tax. In some cases, it will be recommended that HMRC pay out more than what is owed in order to compensate for poor service and relevant costs.
HMRC can take too much tax in a range of ways, such as Income Tax and Corporation Tax.