HM Revenue could be to blame for VAT issues, claim
A new survey undertaken across events for the Association of Accounting Technicians, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has shown that tax payers and professionals may not be getting the right level of support when trying to pay the correct amount of VAT.
Newport-based Centurion VAT Specialists conducted the survey while in attendance at the ICAEW annual Wales Conference and a number of AAT/ACCA events across Wales and the SW of England.
The company wanted to gauge the thoughts of industry insiders on how VAT compliance management is handled and what contact with, and responses from, HMRC on VAT related matters was like.
The results from the survey suggest that the customers may not be at fault if they are not paying the right amount of VAT as HMRC is not providing adequate information and may need to restructure the way it deals with customer enquiries.
HMRC has a customer enquiry service that is available by telephone, post or email, however over half of the people questioned stated the responses they received from HMRC were neither clear nor concise, with 32 per cent of those who contacted HMRC saying their responses were not timely and 29 per cent stating they could not get through by telephone.
Liz Maher, of Centurion VAT, which is based at Langstone Business Park, said: “It is alarming to see that when professionals contact HMRC they do not get a response in a timely manner and more importantly, that the information they receive is not clear or concise.
“HMRC needs to rethink how they handle customer enquiries regarding VAT so that the tax professionals receive the right level of support. The staff at HMRC who deal with customer enquiries need to have the technical knowledge to give clear information and as a result, tax payers and professionals will have less problems. Increasingly telephone calls go through an automated question process only to receive a message at the end that no one is available to deal with the call and no message facility is available. You wouldn’t run a business for long with that client handling approach!”
HMRC made changes to their website recently, which could indicate that they are trying to make information readily available, however 77 per cent of those who visited the website felt the information was not beneficial, with some saying the information was confusing and other professionals found the website difficult to navigate.
Given the recent announcement in the Budget that more resources are going to HMRC to combat tax evasion the question is how will this help those tax payers that are trying hard to contact HMRC but fail due to inadequate systems?
Centurion VAT was established in 1998 and was originally set up to work alongside the University of Wales, Newport. It has since grown to include five senior level VAT practitioners with over 145 years of experience combined and can offer expertise in sectors including education, third sector, house associations and manufacturing.