Dealing with HMRC – guidance

Complain to HM Revenue and Customs

How to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about your complaint, and how we'll deal with it.

When to tell HMRC about your complaint

If you’re unhappy with the service we’ve given you, contact us as soon as possible.

Examples of things that you might not be happy with are:

  • unreasonable delays
  • mistakes
  • how we’ve treated you

Contact the person you’ve been dealing with, or one of the HMRC helplines, they’ll usually put things right quickly.

How to tell us

You can make your complaint to HMRC by phoning or writing to the person or office you’ve been dealing with. The phone number will be on any letters we’ve sent you.

Contact one of HMRC’s complaint help lines if you don’t have a phone number or address.

Tell us about your Income Tax complaint online

Use the online form to make your complaint, or to discuss a complaint you’ve already made. Your complaint must be about Income Tax and you must be either:

  • a Self Assessment customer
  • an employee who’s had tax taken from your wages
  • a pensioner who’s had tax taken from your pension

You’ll need to sign in to, or set up your Government Gateway account.

You can choose how we contact you to resolve your complaint, for example, by email or telephone.

You’ll need your National Insurance number, this is shown on your payslip, P60 or tax return.

Phone or write to the person or office you’ve been dealing with if your complaint isn’t to do with Income Tax (for example, if your complaint is about your VAT, Child Benefit or Tax Credits).

The phone number will be on any letters we’ve sent you.

What you’ll need to tell us

When you contact us, please give as much information as you can to help us understand and investigate your complaint.

Include:

  • your full name, address and contact telephone number
  • your reference number, for example your:
    • National Insurance number
    • tax reference
    • VAT registration number or employer reference
  • what went wrong
  • when it happened
  • who you dealt with
  • what effect our actions had on you
  • how you’d like us to resolve the matter

If you disagree with a tax decision (for example the amount of your tax, or a penalty you’ve been asked to pay) there’s a different process.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a different way of dealing with a tax dispute with HMRC. You can apply for ADR if you’ve stopped making progress in your dealings with HMRC.

Ask someone to complain for you

You can ask someone else to complain for you. This could be a relative, friend or professional adviser. There are also many voluntary organisations that may be able to help you, such as:

You’ll need to appoint someone to deal with HMRC on your behalf so we can give that person confidential information about your financial matters.

What HMRC will do

HMRC won’t treat you any differently because you’ve made a complaint. We’ll deal with your matter fairly and impartially.

When you tell us about your complaint we’ll:

  • try to solve the problem and reply to you as quickly as we can
  • handle your complaint confidentially and investigate the issues thoroughly
  • give you the name and contact details of the person who’s dealing with your complaint
  • keep you informed of the progress of our investigation
  • let you know who to contact if you’re still unhappy

If the person, office or helpline you’ve contacted can’t deal with your concerns, they’ll pass your complaint to a customer service adviser.

Ask for your complaint to be passed to a customer service adviser straightaway if you’d prefer not to talk about the matter with the person or office directly.

When we respond to your complaint, we’ll send you a paper copy of the Putting things right: how to complain - Factsheet C/FS or a link to the factsheet online. It tells you what you can do if you’re unhappy with our service. It also tells you more about the Adjudicator and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

We won’t send the factsheet if you’re an agent and your complaint is about Self Assessment or Income Tax. Our response will tell you where you can get the factsheet or more information.

Resolving the matter

If we’ve made a mistake we’ll say sorry, explain what happened and put things right as quickly as we can.

We’ll consider refunding any reasonable costs directly caused by our mistakes or unreasonable delays. Costs can include postage, phone charges or professional fees. You should keep your receipts if you want us to make a refund.

If you think our actions have caused you worry or distress tell us straightaway. In some cases we may be able to make a small payment to acknowledge this and apologise.

Where we make a mistake or delay using information you’ve given us, and we send you a late tax bill or pay you too much Tax Credits, we may not collect the full amount you owe. There are very strict conditions in these situations, the person dealing with your complaint can give more information.

Taking your complaint further

If we look at your complaint and you’re still not satisfied it’s been resolved, ask us to look into your complaint for a second and final time.

A different customer service adviser will:

  • take a fresh look at the complaint
  • give you a final response

Once we give you that response, our complaints procedure is complete.

The Adjudicator

If you’re still unhappy following the second HMRC review, you can ask the Adjudicator to look into your complaint. The Adjudicator is a fair and unbiased referee and their service is free.

The Adjudicator will investigate and help to resolve complaints from individuals and businesses who remain unhappy about the way their affairs have been handled. The Adjudicator can’t consider disputes about policy or matters of law.

HMRC will tell you how to contact the Adjudicator when we give you our final response. The Adjudicator will only look at your complaint after we’ve tried to put it right for you. The Adjudicator’s Office website has more information.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

You can also ask a Member of Parliament to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is independent and will look into a complaint, usually after it’s been considered by the Adjudicator.

Handling your tax matters while you’re complaining

You should continue to pay any tax that’s due while HMRC, the Adjudicator, or the Parliamentary Ombudsman are dealing with your complaint. If you stop or delay your payments you may be charged interest or penalties.

Complaints about serious misconduct by HMRC staff

If you want to complain about misconduct by HMRC staff, the quickest way to resolve your complaint is to follow the complaint process set out on this page.

However, we recognise that you may have concerns about doing this for allegations of serious misconduct against a member of our staff.

Read the complain about serious misconduct by HMRC staff guidance to see what you can do in these cases.