The UK’s tax authority, HMRC, has closed its self-assessment tax helpline for three months this summer, starting from Monday, June 12, until Monday, September 4. The move is aimed at allocating call centre resources to handle more critical and urgent phone enquiries during this period.
This means that if you have any questions or issues related to your self-assessment tax return, you will have to use HMRC’s online resources instead of calling them.
Here are some important facts and tips to help you cope with this temporary closure:
Why is HMRC closing the self-assessment helpline?
HMRC says that the closure is part of a trial to improve its service efficiency and allocate its resources more effectively. By directing non-urgent queries to digital channels, HMRC hopes to provide quicker responses and reduce waiting times for taxpayers.
Angela MacDonald, Deputy CEO and Second Permanent Secretary at HMRC, stated, “We continually review our services to see how they can best serve the public and we are taking steps to improve them. A seasonal SA helpline will make more of our expert advisers available where they are most needed during the summer months.”
The decision comes as HMRC faces increasing call volumes, particularly during the tax filing season. The self-assessment helpline receives far fewer calls over the summer, with calls around 50% higher between January and April compared with June to August.
The helpline will re-open on September 4, so customers can receive expert support in the five months running up to the online self-assessment filing deadline on January 31.
What are the alternatives to the self-assessment helpline?
HMRC has a range of digital services that can help you with your self-assessment queries, including:
- Its digital assistant, which can answer common questions and guide you through the online process.
- Webchat, which allows you to chat with an adviser online.
- Online guidance, which provides detailed information on various topics related to self-assessment.
- The online service helpline, which can help you with technical issues or problems accessing your online account.
You can find more information on how to access these digital services on the official HMRC website.
How can you cope with the self-assessment helpline closure?
HMRC advises taxpayers to explore and familiarise themselves with the available digital services. By doing so, you can better navigate the online resources and streamline your interactions with HMRC during the three-month trial period.
Some steps you can take to cope with the self-assessment helpline closure include:
- Registering for an online account if you haven’t already done so.
- Checking your personal details and tax code are correct on your online account.
- Updating your income and expenses records regularly.
- Filing your tax return early, if possible, to avoid delays or penalties.
- Seeking professional advice if you have complex tax affairs or need further assistance.
What are the benefits and challenges of using digital services?
The move towards expanding digital services has been well-received by some experts, who believe it could lead to greater efficiency and accessibility. With advancements in artificial intelligence and automation, digital services have become more capable of handling complex queries, making them an attractive option for taxpayers seeking assistance.
However, critics have expressed concern about potential challenges faced by individuals who may be less tech-savvy or have limited access to the internet. It remains to be seen how HMRC will address these issues during the trial period.
What’s next for HMRC?
HMRC says that it will monitor and evaluate the impact of the trial on its service quality and customer satisfaction. If successful, this initiative may mark a significant step towards a more digitally driven and responsive tax administration system in the future.
Take action now.
If you have any questions or concerns about the self-assessment helpline closure, don’t wait until it’s too late. Visit the official HMRC website today and explore the available digital services and if you encounter any difficulties or have any tax queries, don’t hesitate to contact our expert team of chartered tax advisors. We offer professional and affordable services to help you with any tax related matters. Get in touch with us today and let us handle your tax worries.