Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Questions (459)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

559 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the dates in the past six months when the Revenue PAYE telephone No. 1890 33 34 25 has not been manned for a whole or part of a day. [2273/06]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the PAYE lo-call number 1890 33 34 25 was not available from 20 to 25 October 2005. This was due to the launch of a completely new and greatly expanded PAYE computer system at that time, which required significant live staff training on the new system.

Since 14 November 2005, the operation of the PAYE lo-call number 1890 33 34 25 has been restricted to the hours 9.15 a.m. to 1 p.m. but with significant numbers of additional staff being provided to deal with phone queries during these hours. Throughout 2005, Revenue has been experiencing large increases in business volume, particularly in the PAYE area, and the 1890 service has been restricted to these hours to enable PAYE staff to address the substantial backlog of correspondence that had built up during October and November.

This temporary restriction in the hours of operation of the 1890 telephone service does not reduce the overall number of telephone queries being dealt with on a daily basis because an increased number of operators are assigned to the system during these hours. For example, during the period 15 November 2005 to 23 December 2005, an average of 2,100 calls were handled daily through the lo-call number 1890 33 34 25 compared with an average of 1,300 calls handled daily in the period prior to the restriction. I am informed by Revenue that it is their intention to revert to an unrestricted service as soon as circumstances allow.

I am also advised that a number of self service options via touch-tone telephone, text message or Internet have been introduced, allowing customers to automatically request forms and leaflets and to claim certain amendments to their tax credit certificates without the need to talk to a staff member. A much wider range of on-line facilities allowing PAYE taxpayers to file returns and make tax rebate claims and to update their tax credits and reliefs will be provided over the coming months.