Apart from Darth Vader, the Daleks and the Abominable Snowman there are few things in life more scary that HM Revenue and Customs.  The people at the Revenue are notoriously humourless, they don’t give up very easily on the collection process and they possess extremely wide statutory powers.  Accordingly, registering a complaint is not easy but if your cause is just it can be done.  These are my top tips.
  • The Revenue are obliged by law to act fairly and reasonably and should not, in theory, pick on you just because you have complained.  You should play the same game – act fairly and reasonably yourself – be very measured and sensible in all dialogue.
  • I have had great personal success by befriending a the individual dealing with my case – far from being hostile he was extremely helpful and sympathetic.
  • Do not launch into “war mode” with the Revenue – diplomacy and a more softly softly approach will often work wonders.
  • Unreasonable delays, mistakes or poor conduct by Revenue staff should not be tolerated.  If your complaint is of a more technical nature you will almost certainly need professional assistance – this costs but is worth it.
  • The Revenue’s website is at www.hmrc.gov.uk and it contains a number of dedicated help lines on which you can complain about specific subjects such as tax credits, VAT or National Insurance
  • Although a telephone conversation is not a bad idea, follow it up with a letter setting out all the relevant details of your complaint.  If it is serious the Revenue will appoint a complaints handler to deal with your issue.
  • When you complain you should be specific about what you want eg. compensation for wasted costs or wasted fees of professionals and so on.  Complaining to the Revenue is not like complaining to Cadburys – the Revenue will not palm you off with a large quantity of chocolate samples!
  • If your complaint falls on deaf ears try taking it to what is called the Adjudicator – see www.adjudicatorsoffice.gov.uk for more details.
  • The Parliamentary Ombudsman or your local MP are also routes worth exploring.
  • If your complaint concerns serious misconduct and you do not want to write to your own tax office to report it write to HM Revenue & Customs
PO Box 64353 London EC3P 3AW and someone independent will investigate.