Ever paid your taxes and felt begrudged because you were never acknowledged? Ever wondered who actually receives them and what they actually go towards? Ever wanted a simple thank-you for giving half your earnings away only to be left on the phone for hours on end? Well then you might just be in luck thanks to HMRC Australia. It recently emerged that in total we waited a huge 4 million hours on the phone for HMRC to deal with our various tax related issues last year and as a result HMRC has decided to pay back a slight bit of kindness and send out thank-you letters for our patience, much to the surprise of many. Our friends down under already receive thank-you letters when they have made a tax payment, albeit automated, but still, it’s the thought that counts. Not only does the letter thank people for their tax contribution, it also tells them how the Australian government plans to spend the money, a welcome enlightenment for some.
Accountants are concerned that a thank-you letter to British tax payers may not be so willingly received, but nevertheless the issue has been raised in from of the Public Accounts Committee in the House of Commons during the annual tax summaries and it has been concluded that a small thank-you may be included on tax summary letters in the future. It has been decided that the new gesture will be tested out on the public and in a matter of weeks it will be decided whether or not this is the way forward.
It is not unusual for HMRC to be under scrutiny for their customer service, but recently waiting times have been somewhat of a disaster for callers wanting to pay tax. A near total collapse in the organisation’s ability to take calls just last year is what triggered the need for a turnaround and a fresh outlook on how it deals with the public. The issue was brought up at the tax summaries meeting by former Labour Cabinet Minister, who jokes about the ludicrous waiting times, asking what songs should be played during the four million hours that tax payers remained on hold, with Blondie’s ‘hanging on the telephone’ being her number one suggestion. Jokes aside, ministers were challenged and it was promised that a number of measures have been put into place to ensure things never get that bad again. HMRC’s new chief executive Jon Thompson has admitted that the waiting period was unacceptable and hopes to have all calls answered within five minutes by the end of March next year. There has been predictions that tax payer’s will find the thankyou letter no more than an annoyance after waiting on the phone for a significant amount of time, due a declining service. There are also qualms that the new letters would come at a great expense to HMRC.