HMRC: Improvements to the Bereavement Service

In 2012, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) gave a commitment to improve their service for bereaved customers. Since then, HMRC has been looking at ways to simplify their process based on what customers told them was important to them at a very difficult time. In particular, that HMRC:

  • make it easy for them
  • give a prompt and efficient service
  • don’t ask for information they already hold
  • tell them what to do and when

Here are some of the improvements HMRC has made. They have:

  • 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
  • made it easier for a bereaved customer to authorise someone else to act for them – HMRC now deals with 95% of agent authorisations at the first point of contact, compared to 5% before the change
  • improved their process by focusing on the customer – for example, HMRC now settles the tax affairs of a Self Assessment customer in-year instead of at the end of the tax year, giving the bereaved customer certainty more quickly
  • received 34% fewer complaints between April and November 2013, compared to the same period in 2012

One of the main changes is around form R27 ‘Reclaiming tax or paying tax when someone dies’. As HMRC could not deal with about 50% 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 received:

  • 34% were about filling in the form
  • 15% were to progress chase the form

To make it easier for customers, HMRC are reducing the amount of information they ask for by making better use of the data they already hold. Real Time Information now gives HMRC all the pay and tax information they need from bereaved customers – making the form R27 unnecessary.

On 13 October, HMRC 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 the individual’s circumstances

Removing this form means customers will get their tax affairs sorted quickly and need to contact HMRC less. It will also result in substantial cost reductions for the customer and enable HMRC to move staff to other high priority work as they will no longer need form R27.