HMRC has announced its plans to temporarily close the self-assessment tax helpline for a period of three months during the summer. The purpose behind this decision is to allocate call centre resources to address more critical and pressing calls.
During the closure, all calls to the helpline will be redirected to digital services, allowing HMRC to prioritize urgent phone inquiries. The closure will be in effect from Monday, June 12, until Monday, September 4. HMRC intends to conduct a trial during this period, redirecting self-assessment (SA) queries to their digital services, which include online guidance, a digital assistant, and webchat facilities.
To compensate for the helpline closure, HMRC will increase the number of advisors available on webchat, the online service helpline, and the extra support team helpline. According to HMRC, there is a 50% decrease in demand for the self-assessment helpline during the summer months.
Tax advisors and accountants have raised concerns about the quality of service provided by HMRC, citing long wait times on phone lines and a decline in service quality. While HMRC has previously limited access to helplines, this is the first time they have chosen to completely suspend a service for a substantial period.
HMRC stated that this measure would free up 350 advisors to handle urgent calls on other lines and address taxpayer correspondence. By prioritizing urgent calls, these advisors would be able to handle approximately 6,600 calls per day, ensuring that taxpayers with pressing inquiries receive prompt assistance.