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HMRC internal manual

Complaint Handling Guidance

Complaints: An Overview: Our Complaints Process

HMRC operates a formal two-tier complaints process.  Tier 1 is our first attempt to resolve the complaint and we aim to resolve as many complaints as possible at this stage.

If a customer is not satisfied with the response at Tier 1, they can ask for the complaint to be looked at again and this becomes a Tier 2 complaint. This is HMRC’s second and final review of the complaint and should be conducted by a different complaint handler to ensure we undertake a fresh review.

If the customer is still dissatisfied after HMRC’s final review at Tier 2, they can ask the Adjudicator to look at their complaint.  This is completely independent to HMRC.

If the customer is dissatisfied with the response from the Adjudicator, they can write to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). Again, this is completely independent to HMRC.

There is no discretion in our process or policy about whether a complaint should be escalated to the next stage or not. Within the framework of our complaint policy (for example a complaint has to have been resolved at Tier 1 before escalating to Tier 2), then if a customer wishes to escalate, it is their right to do so.

Examples of appropriate internal HMRC escalation

As outlined above the right to escalate a complaint is with the customer. However if we receive correspondence after the tier 1 case has closed because:-

  • the customer has simply misinterpreted a point made in the tier 1 response or
  • has not provided enough information and clarification may help to resolve the complaint

It may be appropriate to manage the correspondence within tier 1 and seek to provide a clearer explanation of the point in question, rather than escalate to tier 2. This can be classed as a subsequent correspondence case.

If the customer was dissatisfied with the response at tier 1 or we didn’t answer all of the points satisfactorily, they may escalate to tier 2.

It is important to keep the customer informed of where they are in the complaint handling process. This is good signposting practice. For example, if they are at tier 1, tell them they are in the first stage of the complaints process.  If they are at tier 2, explain to them that this is HMRC’s final review of their complaint.