HMRC call centre workers striking on the 31st January has led to outcries from taxpayers worried about not being able to contact the tax helplines for support submitting their tax returns. The date chosen is the regular deadline for electronic/online submission of the annual Self Assessment Tax Return.
The response from HMRC is to push back the regular deadline date by two days to February 2nd 2012, with no penalties for anyone submitting a return up to midnight deadline day.
Stephen Banyard, the Acting Director General of Personal Tax at the Revenue said all HMRC want is the tax return and payment, not the penalty and therefore are removing any disadvantage the strike action could bring by extending the deadline.
Why are the call centre staff striking?
The staff are members of the Public and Commercial Services union, PCS, who are staging a 24-hour strike on Tuesday 31st January due to plans to trial using private firms at two call centres.
The privatisation by using Sitel and Teleperformance to handle calls at two call centres in Cumbria and Scotland are part of a 1 year trial, starting February, and may lead to the eventual loss of jobs.
A spokesman for HMRC says there are no plans to privatise 'existing' jobs but to improve the current service by using experienced external call handling providers.