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HMRC closed its self-assessment helpline until 4th September so it can “trial directing SA queries from the helpline to the department’s digital services, including its online guidance, digital assistant and webchat”.

There have also been reports of severe delays affecting individuals and businesses and stories of repayment claims taking upwards of several months to be processed arising from underinvestment. For urgent enquiries, taxpayers and accountants sometimes have to wait for over an hour to speak to an HMRC adviser, if they are not cut off beforehand.

Such delays can often mean taxpayers miss a deadline and face penalties, leading to further calls requesting these fines are cancelled. As such HMRC underinvestment has the potential to cause a devastating strain on business and household cashflow.

TaxAssist Accountants, the largest nationwide network of accountants, has long championed the UK business sector and now wishes to lend its weight to the chorus of voices who are asking for more resources to help improve HMRC service levels.

Andy Gibbs ATT CTA, Head of Group Technical at TaxAssist Accountants, said: “Such delays are unacceptable as they impact on many of our clients, who are frustrated by HMRC hold ups. Despite MPs promising to look into this, we hope our petition will prompt them to debate HMRC’s resources and help find a viable solution to help taxpayers and, in turn, the UK’s economy.

“While HMRC did a sterling job delivering the Covid support schemes, it is now grappling with poor customer service levels and faces significant challenges implementing a much-needed switch to digital tax solutions.”

“The HMRC service dashboard and improvements to the ‘where’s my reply’ service are steps in the right direction but members of the public and accountants face challenges and need HMRC to invest in customer service provision. The recent decision by HMRC to close its VAT registration helpline from 22nd May, which was created to help businesses who have a concern around their VAT registration application, is just one example of reduced service levels impacting businesses. The three-month closure of the self-assessment helpline will further inconvenience individual taxpayers and it is not clear how digitally excluded taxpayers will be able to resolve tax queries following this damaging move.”

As well as calling for more investment to be made in HMRC, TaxAssist would like HMRC to prioritise the implementation of Making Tax Digital for Income Tax, which is critical to get right so hard-pressed businesses can benefit from a digital tax service, with no further delay to the implementation timeline.

Sign our petition

To sign this petition calling for more resources for HMRC to cut the delays and meet growing demand, please click here.

Date published 20 Jun 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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