HMRC has revealed plans to implement a 'seasonal' model for its self-assessment helpline. This means that from the 12th of June until the 4th of September, all enquiries will be redirected to digital services instead ...
HMRC has tried to explain the decision to close the helpline!
This decision was made abruptly, giving taxpayers a mere four days' notice with them stating that this will allow 350 full-time equivalent HMRC advisors to focus on answering calls and taxpayer correspondence in other areas.
"This shift is expected to enable advisors to handle 6,600 calls daily!"
The decision to close the self-assessment helpline for three months was justified by HMRC on the grounds that call volumes are lower during the summer, with 50% more calls received from January to April compared to June to August.
This move comes shortly after HMRC encouraged taxpayers to file their returns early, noting that 77,500 taxpayers had already submitted their tax returns for the 2022/23 tax year as of 6th April 2023. However, nearly 1.2 million people called the helpline during the same period of the three-month closure in 2022, with over 900,000 people staying on the line to speak to someone.
I do have to point out that the helpline will be closed when taxpayers are due to make payments by the 31st of July. I also feel this underscores the need for HMRC to have more resources overall!
This is the latest instance of HMRC closing a service or temporarily reducing it and relying on online services instead, as the tax department attempts to manage its falling service levels. In May, HMRC announced the permanent closure of the VAT registration helpline, directing those affected to digital services instead.
HMRC also limited the Agent Dedicated Line to just self-assessment late filing penalties and PAYE coding notice for three months from April to June to manage capacity issues, again pushing agents towards using digital services.
"HMRC has tried to explain the decision to close the helpline!"
It says it continually reviews services to see how they can best serve the public and is taking steps to improve them. It also encourages customers to fully explore the 'quick and easy-to-use' online services, including the HMRC app, before deciding to wait to speak to someone on the phone.
We shall wait and see how this works, but I feel the closure will cause more problems than it solves.
Until next time ...
ROGER EDDOWES Business Godparent
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Roger trained at Edward Thomas Peirson & Sons in Market Harborough before working at Hartwell & Co, followed by Chancery, as a partner. He started Essendon Accounts and Tax with Helen Beaumont in 2014 as a general practitioner with a hands-on approach.
Roger loves getting his hands dirty, working with emerging, small-to-medium and family businesses to ensure they receive the best possible accountancy advice. Roger utilises an extensive network of business contacts to leverage the best guidance and practical solutions.
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