HMRC is to continue using text messages to redirect helpline callers to online services. It will expand the trial to more services. The trial is not being carried out on the agent dedicated line.
Since January, individual callers to HMRC helplines with certain queries have been receiving SMS text messages with links to online services. In the first two months, SMS messages were sent to 180,000 callers – 38.7% did not call back within seven days as a result. ICAEW’s Tax Faculty says: “Any measure that reduces pressure on HMRC’s helplines is potentially helpful, but this does mean that more than 60% of taxpayers did need to phone back for assistance.”
From 4 May 2023, the service will be expanded to include more types of routine query.
Callers will be given the option to either receive a link to the online service or remain on the phone for the following types of query:
- proof of entitlement document for child benefit (new);
- voluntary national insurance contributions and checking national insurance record (new);
- applying for, amending, or cancelling marriage allowance (new);
- checking for receipt of a voluntary national insurance payment (new);
- when to expect a reply from HMRC (new);
- help filling in a self assessment tax return;
- queries on whether they should register for self assessment or if they still need to complete a tax return;
- lost national insurance number, or request for a letter confirming their number.
The following types of query will be redirected automatically without an option to stay on the phone:
- enquiries about claiming tax credits (HMRC is signposting to benefit entitlements information on GOV.UK as tax credits have been replaced by universal credit) (new);
- requests for a state pension forecast (a service provided by the Department for Work and Pensions, but HMRC often receives calls with these requests) (new);
- finding your unique taxpayer reference number; registering for HMRC online services;
- lost or forgotten online service password or user ID.
Telephone numbers for HMRC’s extra support team and online support helpline will be automatically provided to those being redirected. This means that callers who may require additional support, such as the digitally excluded, are still able to speak to an adviser.
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