HMRC hands back £4 million to wronged taxpayers

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HMRC hands back £4 million to wronged taxpayers

Adjudicator upholds 90% of complaints against HMRC.

Nearly 90% of complaints against the taxman were at least 'partially' upheld last year, the latest annual report from the Adjudicator's Office has revealed.

What's more, more than 50% were 'substantially' upheld across 2013/14.

As a result HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) paid out more than £4 million returning tax it had claimed incorrectly, as well as redress payments, to taxpayers who brought their complaint to the Adjudicator's Office.


What does the adjudicator do?

The role of The Adjudicator's Office is to provide impartial investigations into complaints brought by individuals and businesses unhappy about the handling of their complaints by HMRC, the Valuation Office Agency or The Insolvency Service.

If a person has already made a complaint to one of these bodies, and is unhappy with the outcome, they can request a formal review of their case by the department in question. If they are still not satisfied after that point, they may approach the Adjudicator's Office, who will review the case and decide whether to uphold the complaint.

If they do uphold the complaint, the complaint may be settled by mediation, where both parties reach an agreement. 55% of complaints were mediated in 2013/14. Failing that, it can be resolved by recommendation – the Adjudicator steps in to review the case, before outlining its views and any recommendations.

If the complaint is not upheld, but you provide new evidence which is fundamental to proving the case in your favour, you can ask The Adjudicator to reconsider the case. If that doesn't work out, you can then ask your MP to refer the complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

£4 million pay-out

Most of the £4 million paid out to HMRC customers came in the form of liability given up. That relates to cases where HMRC had received too much money from taxpayers, which has now been paid back.

In some cases, the Adjudicator will recommend that HMRC pays out more than was owed in recognition of poor service offered and relevant costs. £103,498 was paid out due to worry and distress caused, £142,596 as compensation for poorly handled complaints, and a further £180,615 was handed out to cover various costs.

Complaints against HMRC

In 2013/14, The Adjudicator's Office received 1,087 new complaints, resolving 2,311. The reason why the number of resolved cases outweighs the new cases is due to a backlog; Adjudicator Judy Clements OBE explains in her report that her office had nearly 2,700 cases on hand at the start of 2013/14, due to the "exceptional workload received in 2012-13, from HMRC customers".

Commenting on the current situation, she said that there was "no place for complacency, particularly when this year 90% of HMRC customer complaints have been upheld. I am again disappointed to see HMRC staff still overlooking the needs of some vulnerable customers."

Have you had issues with HMRC in the past? Let us know your experiences in the comments box below.

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