Standards are slipping at HM Revenue & Customs as a depleted workforce struggles to hit targets.
An HMRC insider, speaking to ITV's Tonight programme, has said that overworked staff routinely ignore mistakes, bin letters and refuse to answer phone calls.
According to the anonymous employee: "Staff have been told that, when someone rings in with a tax inquiry and you spot a mistake on a person's record, you have to ignore it unless they have actually asked you to look at that mistake." They added: "It's all about the government target of answering so many calls a day."
Since the 2005 merger of the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, 17,000 jobs from a workforce of 105,000 have been cut. Complaints to the independent Adjudicator's Office have doubled in the same period. Taxpayer Robert Wales was visited by a debt collection agency over a bill of £15,000 when Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) actually owed him £800. He was offered £25 compensation.
An HMRC spokeswoman said: "We provide a very good service to our millions of customers."