HMRC’s VAT helpline will only be open for the five business days ahead of the filing date each month. HMRC has also made permanent the changes to the taxpayer self assessment and PAYE helplines.

HMRC has announced that, from 8 April 2024, its VAT general enquiries telephone helpline will only be available for the five business days leading up to and including the filing deadline each month. Anyone calling the helpline outside this period will be directed to HMRC’s online services, including digital assistant and webchat.  

For guidance on contacting HMRC about VAT general enquiries, including online services and the helpline, see gov.uk. HMRC’s webchat service can be accessed from this webpage via Ask HMRC online – HMRC’s digital assistant. Some ICAEW members have suggested typing in the word ‘adviser’ to get from the digital assistant to webchat. Webchat can be used for specific taxpayer queries. The HMRC adviser will ask the same security questions that they would on the phone. 

VAT registration queries can be emailed to vrs.newregistrations@hmrc.gov.uk 

Self assessment and PAYE 

HMRC is also making permanent the changes to the self assessment (SA) helpline trialled last year.  

SA taxpayers will be expected to self-serve online or via the HMRC app throughout the year, wherever possible. The SA helpline will be closed between 8 April and 30 September and callers will be directed to self-serve online, which includes a digital assistant and webchat (accessed via here via Ask HMRC online).  

During the SA peak period (which HMRC considers to be October to March), HMRC advisers will be available on the SA helpline to answer specific types of queries. Between October and January, the helpline will accept calls about submitting SA tax returns and making payments. In February and March, the helpline expects to deal with calls on appealing penalties. During these periods, other queries will be directed to online services. ICAEW understands that, when open, the SA helpline should accept calls on complex matters and where there is no online service.  

Taxpayers who struggle to go online or who need extra support because of their health or personal circumstances should contact HMRC’s online services helpline which will triage calls to the extra support team where appropriate. 

There are currently no plans to change the services on the agent dedicated line (ADL). However, HMRC is keeping the service under continuous review. HMRC has confirmed that advisers on the ADL will deal with both the PAYE and SA aspects of a query. However, some advisers are not trained on both and so will require the agent to call back on the SA or PAYE line as appropriate.  

From 8 April 2024, HMRC’s PAYE helpline (including the ADL PAYE line) will only accept calls chasing PAYE refunds from taxpayers who struggle to go online or who need extra support because of their health or personal circumstances. HMRC will instead direct all taxpayers and agents chasing up PAYE refunds to their online account, where’s my reply or the digital assistant to check when they can expect to receive the payment. If the refund has not been received by the expected date, the next step is to use webchat. 

Caroline Miskin, Senior Technical manager ICAEW Tax Faculty said “The changes to the VAT helpline are likely to cause the most problems for ICAEW members, with calls being bunched into five working days. HMRC has made clear that all these changes are permanent. It has published an evaluation of the SA helpline changes trial and has said that it will listen to feedback and review processes, but no further formal evaluation is planned. The full impact of the SA helpline closure cannot be assessed at this stage as the effect on the accuracy of returns won’t be known for some time. Although more SA returns were filed by the deadline, more taxpayers missed the deadline, and we know very little about this group. Some online services, such as registering and deregistering for SA require significant improvement.”   


Further reading 

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