HMRC should improve service for larger mid-market businesses says RSM

While a recent survey found that half of mid-sized businesses rated their overall experience of dealing with HMRC as positive, RSM is calling for further improvements in customer service, particularly for larger mid-size firms. 

The survey was carried out to explore mid-size businesses’ experience of dealing with HMRC, with a view to helping the taxman provide a more effective and targeted service to this group.

Commenting on the findings of the HMRC survey, Andrew Hubbard, a partner at audit, tax and consulting firm RSM said:

‘Nobody looks forward to dealing with the tax authorities, so when businesses are asked to comment on their experience of dealing with the taxman, you might expect respondents to rate it as being marginally worse than a trip to the dentist. The fact that just over half said their experience was positive should be acknowledged, but the Revenue needs to look closely at the reasons why the other half were less than satisfied.

‘Interestingly, businesses which used only digital channels to communicate with HMRC were more likely to be positive about their experience than those who used a mixture of digital and non-digital contact, such as letters and phone calls. No doubt HMRC will seize on these findings to show support for its digital strategy. However, the findings also reveal that the larger mid-sized businesses surveyed were less likely to be positive about their overall experience. This could be because they had to use non-digital communication more often than their smaller counterparts.

‘This does point to a specific challenge facing larger mid-market companies, and one we are very aware of given our client profile. At risk of over-generalising, smaller businesses will usually have less complex affairs which do not demand significant levels of interaction with the taxman. The very largest businesses will have individual account managers within HMRC who generally perform an effective role in managing communications and resolving problems. This can leave mid-sized businesses which are large enough to have complex tax affairs but not large enough to qualify for an HMRC account manager, with a specific challenge, and one which may not be solved simply by a greater digitalisation of services.

‘HMRC needs to reflect carefully on the findings of this survey and work with larger mid-sized businesses and their advisers to improve the customer experience for this important group of businesses.’

The HMRC survey was conducted between October and December 2015 among mid-sized businesses, defined as being those with a Corporation Tax or Income Tax Self-Assessment turnover above £10m, and/or more than 20 employees.