Taxpayers waiting longer for HMRC enquiries to close, says study

A new study suggests that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) enquiries are taking longer to close – and that taxpayers had to wait an average of 60 days (or 24 per cent) longer for the Revenue to complete investigations last year.

Taxpayers facing enquiries under HMRC’s pensions and CSI (charities, savings and international) units were forced to wait an average of 303 days in 2015/16, up from 243 days in 2014/15, according to reports.

Furthermore, at the end of 2015/16 as many as 4,011 enquiries carried out by the two units remained unclosed – up from just 494 recorded at the end of the previous financial year.

Experts have criticised the Revenue on account of the fact that prolonged waiting times tend to put taxpayers under greater stress, while weighing heavily on their eventual legal bills.

Some argue that the advent of advanced payment notices (APNs), which put taxpayers under an obligation to pay up prior to a dispute being closed, have ‘reduced the incentive’ for the Revenue to promptly close their enquiries.

However, taxpayers are typically within their rights to seek to force HMRC to close an enquiry by applying to the tax tribunal for a direction compelling the Revenue to do so.