Citizens Advice reported that those who took to twitter to complain spent an average of 47 minutes waiting to speak to someone. The charity said it helped with 295,000 queries in the past 12 months which could have required people to contact HMRC. Official figures from HMRC suggest on average wait time of 10 minutes. Citizens Advice calculated that hanging on the line to HMRC for 47 minutes will, charged at the standard landline rate, cost consumers £4.66 in call charges.
Citizens Advice looked at complaints made to the @HMRCgovuk Twitter account between September last year and August after those seeking help from the charity reported not being able to get through to HMRC to resolve issues.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: "People are paying the price for not getting through to HMRC. From fines for not completing a tax return in time to under or overpayments for tax credits, people can be left out of pocket because they cannot speak to HMRC on the phone.
"Work and caring responsibilities means not everyone will be able to wait for three quarters of an hour to ask HMRC a question.
"We have consistently raised this issue with the Government. But evidence from across the Citizens Advice service, and our new research, shows HMRC is still failing to provide a timely service.
"There is already a clear demand to be able to speak to HMRC. With the roll-out of Universal Credit and big changes to tax credits just around the corner this is only going to grow. HMRC needs to urgently address the problems many people are experiencing with phone lines."