Sharp rise in HMRC complaints upheld

The number of complaints against the taxman upheld by the tax referee has surged over the past two years, according to new figures published this morning.

In 2010, there were 466 complaints against HM Revenue & Customs wholly or substantially upheld by the Adjudicator's Office, the body that investigating such grievances. That compares with 229 in 2009 and just 108 in 2008, according to figures obtained by the accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young.

The data follows a series of high-profile errors at HMRC, including the issuance of incorrect PAYE codes, resulting in the collection of £238m in excess tax in 2009-10, up 148 per cent on the excess tax collected in the preceding year.

The problem was not limited to excess tax, as incorrect codes led to the HMRC under-collecting from other taxpayers to the tune of £132m in 2009-10. Roy Maugham, a tax partner at UHY Hacker Young, warned that the level of service was "a huge concern", adding: "Even getting a response to a simple letter of enquiry can now take months."

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