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C Minus for the Vat Helpline and as for the Digital Agenda well...

C Minus for the Vat Helpline and as for the Digital Agenda well...
Posted by: Tony Margaritelli | Last modified on 15/08/2019

I had to smile when I read recently about the travails suffered by Neil Warren the Vat well know VAT Consultant and award-winning writer on tax when he tested the HMRC Vat Helpline for a short article in Taxation Magazine recently.

Now I don’t want to go into the matter he put to them or the answers given which resulted in him awarding the helping a grade of C- simply because of two facts that came out in the article namely:

1. If I ring a helpline the answer should be 100% correct and if it’s 100% correct then it merits a much better rating. If the helpline agent does not know the answer to a question about the tax code brought by a taxpayer, then they should ensure that the taxpayer is passed to someone who does and they should call the taxpayer back. I see no reason to call a helpline in the HOPE that they may know the answer and I doubt that any taxpayer would either.

2. Neil was at one point told that “Only our written enquiries team can give a definitive answer” so in an era of digital transformation, with MTD for VAT up and running, how well it’s running is still to be ascertained, and MTD for everything else on the horizon a taxpayer can only get an answer if they put it in writing. HMRC’s whole approach to the digital agenda has been predicated on the premise of job cuts and savings it will bring about and here when a taxpayer has a problem, they are told write a letter which their own website says could take 15 working days to process.

You simply can’t make this up can you.

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