Tax return helpline to close for three months

Taxpayers who need to contact HMRC for help with their self-assessment will have to use digital services until 4 September 2023.


During this period, HMRC says it will trial prioritising online guidance, digital assistance and web chat.


Even though around five million calls are made to the self-assessment helpline every year, according to HMRC, the helpline has 50% less demand over the summer.


However, between June and August 2022, nearly 1.2m people called the helpline, with over 900,000 staying on the line to try and reach an agent, with the remainder deciding not to wait on hold.


But, HMRC says the closure will free up 350 advisers who will be able to take on “more urgent” calls on other lines.


Adam Harper, Director of Professional Standards and Policy at the Association of Accounting Technicians, said:  

“This pilot raises significant concerns about the impact it will have on taxpayers, particularly those who are digitally excluded or who cannot currently access the service they require via digital platforms.


 “The need for such a pilot, in order to redirect staff elsewhere, highlights the much bigger challenge that HMRC faces in balancing competing priorities with a constrained budget.”


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