Data published by HMRC has revealed that its customer service levels have been adversely affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
HMRC stated that this is a unique financial year as the department continues to operate ‘at the heart of the government’s COVID-19 response’. According to HMRC, the pandemic has ‘reinforced the need for a flexible, resilient and responsive tax and customs system’.
The data showed that HMRC’s customer support phone lines have experienced a high volume of calls from taxpayers, with waiting times ‘significantly longer’ than usual. The average wait time amounted to 11:47 minutes between October and December 2020.
HMRC currently holds £65 billion of debt, which is £45 billion more than this time last year. The debt balance at the end of March is estimated to be between £54 billion and £70 billion.
The Revenue stated: ‘In these unprecedented circumstances, HMRC is rightly prioritising support for customers in urgent need, taking a sympathetic approach to those struggling to pay their tax or file their returns.’