HMRC plans enquiry centre closures
HMRC plans to close around 281 enquiry centres by the end of 2014.
Currently taxpayers can go to enquiry centres to sort out their tax problems in person, but this does not fit into the department’s drive to reduce administration costs.
Rather than the existing network of enquiry centres, HMRC plans to introduce a “more accessible” service tailored to customers’ needs including a specialist team of telephone advisers and a team of mobile, face-to-face advisers able to meet with customers wherever they live.
HMRC’s call centres will, apparently, have dedicated teams with experienced staff trained to deal with vulnerable taxpayers; call centre staff will be able to pass on such calls to the specialists, who will help identify and solve their tax problems, although with the current problems at HMRC on telephone answering this may not be a perfect solution.
The new mobile teams will host tax “surgeries” in places like citizens advice bureaux, libraries and job centres. Where necessary they will also visit vulnerable taxpayers at home. Where someone needs, but cannot afford, independent advice the HMRC team will direct them to appropriate voluntary organisations like Tax Aid.
The proposal was criticised by the civil service union PCS which said closing local offices would cut off vital personal support for pensioners and other vulnerable taxpayers.
Date: 5th April, 2013
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