Jessica Fino 14 Jul 2017 12:41pm

HMRC's average call waiting time improves

Customers calling the Revenue had their calls answered within three minutes and 54 seconds in 2016/17, with 91.7% of calls being handled, according to HMRC's annual report

The new figures are a vast improvement from figures released in 2015, which found that the average waiting time to speak to an HMRC adviser was 38 minutes. according to research by Which?

Meanwhile HMRC’s annual report and accounts also found that the Revenue generated £28.9bn of compliance yield in the last financial year.

This was also the seventh successive year of revenue growth, it found, after bringing £574.9bn in tax revenues, £38.1bn more than a year earlier.

Jon Thompson, HMRC’s chief executive, said, “In the last year, we have generated £28.9bn of compliance yield, billions of pounds that would have otherwise been lost to the UK through avoidance, evasion and organised crime but will now be spent on public services. That’s around £1,000 for every household in the UK.

“We have also strengthened our grip on the minority who deliberately try to cheat the system and continue to pursue those who refuse to pay what they owe, on behalf of the honest majority.

“The message is clear to those who try to not pay their fair and legal share: there is nowhere left to hide.”

In 2016/17, HMRC prosecuted 886 criminals and fraudsters, and its litigators handled more than 1,200 tax cases in courts and tribunals. 83% of these cases were successful, protecting £15bn in tax revenues.

The report also found that a record of 9.6 million customers submitted Self Assessment tax return online by 31 January deadline, with 1.7 million filing via their personal tax account.

Regarding Brexit, Thompson warned that there are likely to be changes to customs, VAT, excise, social security, direct taxes, data sharing and litigation.

“We will be working with HM Treasury to bring forward legislation to establish a new framework for the UK customs service and other areas as required, and will continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that HMRC is able to help them understand and prepare for any changes in the way the tax, benefits and customs systems are administered.”

The government announced this week it will defer implementation of Making Tax Digital (MTD) for a year for larger businesses, following pressure from professional bodies, businesses and MPs.

It will also allow small businesses under the VAT threshold to choose when to adopt MTD.

Under the new MTD timetable, from April 2019, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 will be required to keep digital records and then only for VAT purposes. As they already provide quarterly returns for VAT purposes, they should find compliance comparatively easy.