HMRC to close self-assessment helpline for three months

HMRC has introduced that it’s going to pilot a brand new ‘seasonal mannequin’ for its self-assessment helpline in an try to alleviate stress on its cellphone strains and prioritise pressing queries.

The initiative, set to run for 3 months from twelfth June 2023, will experiment with directing self-assessment queries from the helpline to HMRC’s digital companies, which embody its on-line steerage, digital assistant and webchat.

The overwhelming majority of self-assessment prospects use HMRC’s on-line companies, with 97% submitting on-line, the tax authority mentioned.

HMRC has confronted vital stress to enhance service ranges in latest months, having downsized its customer support workforce from 25,500 to 19,500 up to now 5 years attributable to its push in direction of digitalisation.

However the contemporary initiative, in keeping with the income physique, will unlock 350 advisers to reply round 6,600 “pressing” self-assessment calls every day.

“A seasonal helpline will make extra of our knowledgeable advisers accessible the place they’re most wanted throughout the summer season months,” mentioned Angela MacDonald, deputy CEO and second everlasting secretary at HMRC.

“Our on-line companies, together with the HMRC app, are fast and simple to make use of and have been considerably improved. I urge prospects to discover these absolutely earlier than deciding to attend to talk to us on the cellphone.”

However in keeping with Seb Maley, CEO at IR35 consultancy agency Qdos, the timing of the brand new pilot scheme is inappropriate and merely “highlights chaos” on the tax workplace.

“We’re in a value of dwelling disaster, the self-employed are being hit with tax rise after tax rise and as an alternative of accelerating the assist accessible, HMRC reduces it.

“HMRC can costume it up nevertheless its needs, however closing the cellphone strains for self-employed taxpayers is simply going to end in issues.”

Maley additionally argues that the transfer runs counter to HMRC pleas earlier this yr for self-employed staff to file and pay their tax payments, calling the plans “illogical”.

In equally essential vogue, Chris Etherington, personal consumer tax accomplice at RSM UK argues that the Summer time pilot scheme might pile undue stress onto the cellphone strains after they reopen in September.

Based on HMRC, the self-assessment helpline receives far fewer calls over the Summer time, with calls round 50% larger between January and April in contrast with June to August.

However Etherington argues {that a} summer season closure is prone to worsen the already in depth ready occasions firstly and finish of the yr and trigger some taxpayers to face a “bleak winter”.

“The closure might come as an unwelcome shock to many taxpayers and may very well be a short-sighted transfer. HMRC already struggles to cope with the extent of cellphone calls that come via within the winter forward of the 31 January deadline, and this might make the issue worse.”

Taking a extra optimistic stance, Glenn Collins, ACCA UK’s head of technical and strategic engagement, says he’s “happy HMRC is taking a look at all of the choices to sort out the present poor efficiency”, praising the tax authority for being “versatile and adaptable”

Nonetheless, he goes on to echo Etherington’s views, stating the “rigidity” between HMRC urging taxpayers to file their returns early while closing one of many key mechanisms for this.

“It’s all very nicely selecting the bottom demand level to drive individuals onto a platform which many aren’t snug with, however not in case you’re going to attempt to improve demand by encouraging early submitting on the identical time.

“HMRC will be unable to successfully measure the change in behaviour, as the choice has been eliminated. What HMRC must be specializing in is the proportion of queries settled in a single interplay, this isn’t presently ok and the worry is that this may increasingly worsen.”

Back To Top