PLANS TO CLOSE HMRC HELPLINE FOR HALF A YEAR HALTED

You may have seen somewhat of a furore breaking out in the media towards the end of the month, as HMRC announced its Self-Assessment tax helpline would shut down for half of the year. Rather than use the phone line, anyone seeking help from HMRC officials would be faced with using online services such as a chatbot instead. The proposal meant the Self-Assessment line would be closed from 8 April to 30 September. It follows a trial last year.

However, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, appeared to step in and order HMRC to scrap the plan. HMRC has since announced a pause to the idea. It has begun a consultation to look into the impact that shutting the helpline would have for small businesses and taxpayers.

HMRC Chief Executive Jim Harra said:

“Making best use of online services allows HMRC to help more taxpayers and get the most out of every pound of taxpayers’ money by boosting productivity.

Our helpline and webchat advisers will always be there for those taxpayers who need support because they are vulnerable, digitally excluded or have complex affairs.

However, the pace of this change needs to match the public appetite for managing their tax affairs online. We’ve listened to the feedback and we’re halting the helpline changes as we recognise more needs to be done to ensure all taxpayers’ needs are met, whilst also encouraging them to transition to online services.”

Will the plan still go ahead eventually? We will likely hear the outcome in the coming weeks.

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