Thousands may be overpaying tax

Thousands of people could be overpaying income tax because HMRC got it wrong by releasing too many customer services staff when a new computer system was put in tax expert Owen Kyffin warned this week. 

Owen, a director at Whitley Stimpson, one of the largest accountancy and business advisers in the area with offices at Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and Witney said: “We have seen the impact on service levels and it is unacceptable that so many people may be paying too much tax just because the tax authorities did not check code numbers. 

“It is important that people should get their codes checked, preferably by an independent professional.” 

He was commenting on a report from the National Audit Office which said that between 2010-11 and 2014-15 HMRC cut staff in personal tax operations from 26,000 to 15,000, saving £257 million. 

“As a result the audit office said the quality of service provided by HMRC for personal taxpayers collapsed over an 18-month period and they only managed to handle 71 per cent of calls from the public,” said Owen. 

The report said customer service was at its worst in 2015 but got better when HMRC recruited new staff and estimated that 3.2 million employees have paid the wrong tax. 

“I agree with the report, which says that the tax authorities should balance ambition with realism about its critical assumption and contingency planning,” said Owen.

“They need to move with caution when they implement more complex computerisation.” 

Owen Kyffin can be contacted on 01295 270200 or by email at owenk@whitleystimpson.co.uk