HMRC Bereavement Service

In 2012, HMRC gave a commitment to improve their service for bereaved customers. Since then, they have been listening to what customers told them was important to them at a very difficult time and looked at ways to simplify their process. In particular, our customers felt that they should be doing more to:

  • make it easy for them
  • give a prompt and efficient service
  • not ask for information they already hold
  • Tell them what to do and when.

In response, here are some of the improvements they have made:

  • They created specialist bereavement teams to act as a single point of contact for post and telephone calls for bereaved PAYE and Self Assessment customers. The bereavement helpline answers over 8,000 calls a month in an average of 9.5 seconds.
  • They made it easier for bereaved customers to authorise someone else to act for them. They now deal with 95{f9759586bde9aae26041f7c5d30a2f7e6dd9dbb8958c8825ec70079a0c78198b} of agent authorisations at the first point of contact, compared to 5{f9759586bde9aae26041f7c5d30a2f7e6dd9dbb8958c8825ec70079a0c78198b} before the change.
  • They have improved our process by focusing on the customer. For example, they now settle the tax affairs of Self Assessment customers in-year, instead of at the end of the tax year, giving bereaved customers certainty more quickly.

As a result of these changes they received 34{f9759586bde9aae26041f7c5d30a2f7e6dd9dbb8958c8825ec70079a0c78198b} fewer complaints about their services for bereaved customers between April and November 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.

One of the main changes was around form R27 ‘Reclaiming tax or paying tax when someone dies’. As they could not deal with about 50{f9759586bde9aae26041f7c5d30a2f7e6dd9dbb8958c8825ec70079a0c78198b} of forms at the first point of contact, it was clear that they placed a heavy burden on the Personal Representative. Also, of the bereavement calls they received:

  • 34{f9759586bde9aae26041f7c5d30a2f7e6dd9dbb8958c8825ec70079a0c78198b} were about filling in the form
  • 15{f9759586bde9aae26041f7c5d30a2f7e6dd9dbb8958c8825ec70079a0c78198b} were to chase progress of the form.

To make it easier for customers to deal with them, they have reduced the amount of information they ask for, by making better use of the data they already hold. Real Time Information now gives them the improved details on pay and tax that they previously needed from bereaved customers – making the form R27 unnecessary.

This month they will remove form R27 and replace it:

  • for PAYE customers – with an automated process that is simple for customers and more efficient for HMRC
  • For Self Assessment customers – with a tailored service, which includes letters that match individual circumstances.