You might have seen in the past week that HMRC are pretty bad at answering the phone. Between April and June this year, only 55% of phone calls were answered.
Over the whole year, it was a bit better – 3 out of 4 calls do get answered, but that left 12 million calls unanswered.
HMRC are doing all they can to fix this – they’re employing 3,000 more staff so that they can answer everyone’s queries, especially with the 31 January personal tax deadline looming.
But, it’s worth noting that being left hanging on the telephone may have its benefits. HMRC have hinted that this could be a reasonable excuse for missing a deadline. In the past a “reasonable excuse” for missing a deadline has had to be pretty serious – bereavement or a serious illness are OK, but “the dog ate it” certainly won’t work.
But, last week, an HMRC spokesman was quoted in the Telegraph as saying “We work very much on a case-by-case basis but if you phoned us and couldn’t get through we would take that into account. If someone says they tried to call us we will take their word for it. We do not want to penalise anyone.”
This might open the floodgates for appealing fines so, if it really happened to you, it might be worth keeping your phone records. However, it’s got to be better than making up some of the more bizarre excuses used. Our favourite from last year is still “President Obama was supposed to do it for me but he forgot”.
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Added by Jon Davies
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