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From that date until 31st January, HMRC will only be prioritising complex queries and point most callers with self-assessment tax return queries to its online services, where they will be expected to answer their own queries about tax returns.

HMRC said that its call centre advisers will only be answering “priority queries”, which it deems “cannot be easily dealt with online”, and callers who cannot use online services or need extra support. HMRC said it will monitor all calls to identify people who may need extra help and pass them onto its Extra Support Team. However, HMRC has not revealed details how these priority calls will be ranked. 

This latest reduction in service, follows a three-month closure of HMRC helplines during the summer and that helplines would be reduced by 30% by the end of 2024 so that staff can be placed in roles elsewhere within the tax authority.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary, 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.”

However, HMRC’s decision to reduce its services, including the tax return helpline, has been heavily criticised not only by taxpayers but also by accountants and tax advisers. TaxAssist Accountants launched a petition earlier this year calling for additional resources to help improve HMRC service levels, especially at a time when taxpayers are wanting to file their self-assessment tax returns.

Andy Gibbs ATT CTA, Head of Group Technical at TaxAssist Accountants, said: “Reducing its self-assessment helpline when it is needed most in the lead up to the tax return deadline is unacceptable. Although MPs have promised to look into HMRC service levels, we hope our now closed petition prompted them to debate HMRC’s resources and help find a viable solution to help taxpayers and, in turn, the UK’s economy.”

Need help filing your tax return?

To provide you with the reassurance that your self-assessment tax return is correct and submitted on time you have the option of using an accountant.

At TaxAssist Accountants we provide a fixed and competitive price, taking away the hassle of completing this yourself. We will calculate your tax liability, file your return and liaise with you on the amounts to be paid and when.

To book your free initial call contact us today on 0800 0523 555 or fill in our online enquiry form.

Date published 8 Dec 2023

Fraser McKay, MCIPR (Accredited)

Fraser is a highly experienced journalist and Accredited PR Professional and joined TaxAssist in 2016. He writes articles covering a wide range of topics relating to small businesses and accounting. In addition, Fraser provides communications training to the network, as well as looking after TaxAssist Accountants' national and local social media channels.

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