HMRC limits helpline calls to 'priority queries' as Self Assessment deadline approaches

HMRC limits helpline calls to 'priority queries' as Self Assessment deadline approaches
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Wed 13th Dec 2023

With the deadline for 2022/23 Self Assessment tax returns on 31 January, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is focusing its telephone helpline on priority calls, with other enquiries directed to online services.    

The change, which started on 11 December and runs until the deadline day, means advisers are addressing queries that can't be easily dealt with online, as well as calls from taxpayers who require extra support or cannot engage with HMRC digitally.

HMRC's Angela MacDonald said:   

"This is a busy time for customers who want to get their taxes sorted. We want to help customers resolve any issues in the quickest and easiest way, which is often through our online services.

"The vast majority of Self Assessment customers file their returns digitally, so we’re helping them make the next step to resolving simpler queries through our online services.

"Our expert advisers will be there to help people with urgent and more complicated queries as well as helping the small number who are unable to access our online services."

The announcement follows the complete closure of the Self Assessment helpline from 12 June to 4 September to free up advisers to deal with urgent queries.

Jim Harra, HMRC chief executive, wrote to the Treasury Committee to inform MPs of the latest change to the helpline.

Committee chair Harriet Baldwin responded to Harra's letter and asked if it is related "to pent up demand caused by the closure of the helpline over the summer". She also asked why the announcement was made only two working days before the change began. She said:

"The Treasury Committee has repeatedly stressed our concern about the management of the Self Assessment helpline, particularly when it closed at such short notice over the summer leaving many struggling to access help with tax issues.

"Giving the public less than two working days' notice of a significant reduction in service, while the deadline for Self Assessment returns looms, is yet another alarming development for an increasingly pressured government service. I have written to the CEO of HMRC in order to get much-needed answers about what this means for taxpayers."

Responding to the closure in the summer, Chartered Institute of Taxation president Gary Ashford said:

"This looks like a cry for help in a desperate situation. This is another clear indicator that HMRC can't cope with everything it is being tasked to do, and simply cannot meet the demands of a growing and ever more complex tax system.”


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Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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