HMRC complaints process

Produced by Tolley in association with Simon Oakes
HMRC complaints process

The following Owner-Managed Businesses guidance note Produced by Tolley in association with Simon Oakes provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • HMRC complaints process
  • Introduction
  • Complaints concerning serious and / or potentially criminal misbehaviour by HMRC staff
  • HMRC’s three-tier complaints process
  • Making a complaint
  • Tier 1
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 3 ― the Adjudicator
  • What happens if the complaint is upheld?
  • Compensation for financial loss
  • More...

Introduction

When HMRC has acted mistakenly, unreasonably, disproportionately, unfairly or not in accordance with its published guidance, redress can be sought through an accessible and customer-focused complaints process.

In the right circumstances, HMRC’s complaints process can be used to provide an effective and economical means of seeking redress. This applies across the whole spectrum of taxes work, not just to HMRC investigations or straightforward service delivery failures. It is not a universal panacea, but it is an option that tax advisers should always consider when HMRC has got it wrong or acted unreasonably.

The purpose of this guidance note is to explain how this process can be used effectively. It draws on published case studies provided by the Adjudicator’s annual reports as illustrative examples.

Complaints concerning serious and / or potentially criminal misbehaviour by HMRC staff

Complaints concerning serious and / or potentially criminal misbehaviour by HMRC staff fall outside the scope of HMRC’s normal complaints process.

It is suggested that, for record keeping purposes, the complaint is made in writing. For a list of the particulars which should be included in the letter, see the GOV.UK website.

For information on the normal complaints process see below.

HMRC’s three-tier complaints process

HMRC has a three-tier complaints process. The first two tiers are handled within the relevant HMRC business unit, and it is there to which any complaint should be sent (see below). All taxpayers are entitled to make complaints, and they may be made by telephone, in person or in writing. They can also be made by agents on behalf of their clients.

HMRC’s guidance defines a complaint as “[a]ny expression of dissatisfaction that is not resolved at initial contactand requires a response”. However, for the avoidance of doubt it is good practice at the start of a complaint letter to make it clear this is an issue that requires dealing with by HMRC’s complaints process.

Making a complaint

Complaints can be made either:

  1. via the online form(accessed via the Government Gateway, see

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