HMRC announces and then halts changes to helpline services

Last week, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced changes to its helpline services that will encourage people to go online first.

However, in a fast about turn, the very next day they halted these changes while they consider how best to help taxpayers make more use of online services.

The changes HMRC are proposing apply to Self Assessment, PAYE and VAT services. Feedback though suggests that there is still a significant number of people who are reluctant to deal with their tax affairs online.

HMRC are keen to pursue online services because of the cost savings they bring. They revealed that last year they received more than three million calls on queries that could have been carried out online, including on questions such as resetting an online password, getting a tax code, or finding out a National Insurance number.

The changes they are proposing include:

  • Closing the Self Assessment helpline between April and September and directing callers to self-serve using online services.
  • Opening the Self Assessment helpline between October and March for priority queries. Straightforward queries will still be directed to HMRC’s online services.
  • Opening the VAT helpline for 5 days each month ahead of the deadline for filing VAT returns. At other times, callers will be directed to use online services.
  • The PAYE helpline no longer taking calls on refunds.
  • Having HMRC advisers continue to be available to support those who cannot use online services or need additional support because of their health or personal circumstances.

Jim Harra, HMRC Chief Executive, said: “Making best use of online services allows HMRC to help more taxpayers and get the most out of every pound of taxpayers’ money by boosting productivity. … However the pace of this change needs to match the public appetite for managing their tax affairs online.”

If you need any help in dealing with HMRC, please feel free to get in touch and we will be pleased to help you.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hmrc-helpline-changes-halted

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