Highlighting the seriousness of HMRC’s resourcing problems, it has been announced that the self assessment helpline will be closed until September. The restrictions on the agent dedicated line were removed from 5 June. Agents will be able to have self assessment queries answered on that line.
HMRC has announced that the self assessment helpline 0300 200 3310 will be closed from 12 June to 4 September 2023. Callers to that line will be directed to use HMRC’s online services including digital assistant and webchat.
Agents are able to phone the agent dedicated line (ADL) with self assessment related queries, so the closure will mainly impact unrepresented taxpayers.
Asking for a tax return to be issued or withdrawn
Taxpayers can check online whether they need to complete a self assessment tax return.
Taxpayers who need to register for self assessment should follow the online guidance.
Where a tax return has been issued but there is no requirement to file, the taxpayer or their agent needs to request that the return is formally withdrawn. It is not currently possible to do this online. Taxpayers can either use HMRC’s digital assistant and webchat, write to HMRC or wait to phone in September. Agents can request withdrawal of tax returns through the ADL.
Those requiring self assessment paper forms can obtain these from the self assessment forms orderline. That page currently states, “HMRC does not supply blank tax return forms to agents.” However, the Tax Faculty understands that in practice HMRC will issue up to 10 forms to agents.
Extra support team
While the self assessment helpline is closed, taxpayers who need extra support can reach HMRC’s extra support team via webchat or by phoning any HMRC helpline, such as the income tax general queries line 0300 200 3300.
ICAEW’s Tax Faculty says: “We regret that HMRC has found it necessary to make this decision, which will not have been taken lightly. HMRC is trying to balance significantly reduced resources with risks to tax compliance and the government’s growth agenda.
“The situation is obviously very serious but given the state of the public finances it seems unlikely that HMRC will be allocated any additional resource.
“The agent line is being protected, so the impact will be mainly on unrepresented taxpayers, particularly those with queries on payments on account due on 31 July 2023, those who receive self assessment penalty notices (which are issued in bulk in mid-August) and those who are waiting for self assessment repayments.”
Jim Harra, First Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive, HMRC, has set out the position in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee, saying: “Our existing resource levels will not enable us to handle current forecast demand – which is set to increase significantly – for our phone and post services in line with our service standards.”
The faculty understands that the decision to close the self assessment helpline during a period in which there is less demand will allow HMRC to provide a better service on its PAYE and Tax Credits helplines.
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