HMRC received nearly 60,000 complaints from UK taxpayers in the 2010/11 tax year, and found in the taxpayer’s favour in 57% of cases.
According to law firm Pinsent Masons, during the 2010-11 tax year, of the 58,1000 complaints received by HMRC, 33,284 of the cases were upheld.
George Gillham, Legal Director at the firm, said that the figures were “remarkable”, “It suggests that if you make a complaint to HMRC, they’ll probably decide you’re right, at least in part.”
Gillham said that many taxpayers do not realise that they can complain directly to the tax authorities if they dispute the amount of tax they are told they owe.
“Many complaints result in HMRC writing a tax liability off or offering compensation – and quite a lot of money can be at stake.”
The law firm says that many complaints are about mistakes and errors made by HMRC, bad treatments, delays, and in many cases unexpected demands for tax may be simply “written off” if a complaint is upheld.
The tax system has become increasingly complex over the past decade and a half, with problems compounded by cost-cutting.
Gillham said that the Debt Management Office, which acts as a debt collection agency for HMRC, has also been at the centre of a large proportion of complaints – particularly over its seemingly ‘heavy-handed approach’.
The role of the Office is simply to enforce demands for debt, even if HMRC are subsequently found to have made a mistake. This, Gillham says, can result in taxpayers having “a very unpleasant and distressing experience.”
If in any doubt over your tax liabilities, we suggest that you contact your accountant in the first instance, as you will have authorised them to act on your behalf if the complaint relates to a limited company matter.