As of yesterday (12 June 2023), HMRC has closed their self-assessment helpline for 3 months, with only digital services available in the meantime to anyone needing help. According to HMRC, this will allow 350 advisors to take urgent calls on other lines and answer customer queries. However, it means that the millions of self-employed people who are due to make payments by 31 July 2023 will not be able to access the support they need from HMRC.
Victoria Atkins, financial secretary to the Treasury, explained why she took the decision and gave taxpayers such short notice about the closure:
“I very much understand the concerns about this and I want to be frank with the Committee – our customer service levels across HMRC have not been as they should be so I have been working with officials to find ways to surge our customer service teams to handle peaks in demand that we see across the helpline.
‘This is a quiet quarter for the self assessment line so we are temporarily closing that line and we are directing the 350 staff to other lines which are busier as the line is quiet at this time of year.”
Tax is not straight forward, and we know from experience that not all taxpayer queries can be resolved online. Low earners will be disproportionately affected if they don’t have the resources to appoint an agent to help them. It seems incredibly unfair to actually close a helpline at the very time HMRC know that there will be demand for the service. Once again self-employed people are deprioritised and forgotten about.