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HMRC is working under severe resourcing pressure. Struggling with backlogs, there have been disruptions to a number of services. What is currently affected, and what are you being advised to do in the meantime?

Self-assessment. The self-assessment helpline, i.e. the one you would generally use to contact HMRC about your tax returns, is now closed until 4 September 2023. Whilst on the face of things this should coincide with a relatively quiet period in terms of filing, over 1 million calls were made to the helpline in a similar three-month period last year.

Pro advice. The good news is that the agent dedicated line has been fully reopened, following a period of being limited to discussing late filing penalties and PAYE codes.

You can therefore contact HMRC for all self-assessment queries.

Managed. However, it is likely that some prefer to deal with more mundane contact directly; whether to keep fee levels down, or simply to get reassurance that your query is dealt with directly.

Perhaps the main issue will be requesting a tax return to be withdrawn because the criteria for needing to file one have not been met. Examples include if you were previously subject to the high income child benefit charge who has ceased to receive it, or if your income has fallen below the clawback threshold etc.

Pro advice. For now, making such a request should be done in writing - either by you directly or by your advisor on your behalf. You may also be able to make the request via the HMRC’s webchat facility.

VAT. A further helpline that has ceased (permanently) is the VAT registration helpline, following a review finding that an overwhelming majority of calls are for updates following a registration application, rather than of a technical nature.

Pro advice. HMRC is asking that no queries are made within 40 days - the current quoted time it is taking to process registrations.

The self-assessment helpline will be closed until September 2023. Contact HMRC via your advisor. If they still want to contact HMRC directly, they will need to use the webchat service.

This article has been reproduced by kind permission of Indicator – FL Memo Ltd. For details of their tax-saving products please visit or call 01233 653500.

11th Aug 2023 14:23


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