Once again self-employed people are de-prioritised and mistreated by HMRC.
In a shocking disregard for their ‘customers’, and with no prior warning, HMRC has announced that the majority of self-assessment helpline callers will be redirected to resolve their own queries themselves online. Instead of providing the full and proper helpline service that we’ve come to expect, HMRC’s call centre will only answer ‘priority queries’ with effect from 11 December 2023. This means that the helpline is effectively no longer a *help* line, and HMRC is failing some 4m taxpayers by removing a valuable service with no advance notice.
The decision has been made without consultation with stakeholders nor accountancy professional bodies who’s members will no doubt be left picking up the pieces.
The government’s Treasury Committee is also outraged, and their Chair Harriet Baldwin sent this urgent letter to HMRC’s CEO. The committee has requested answers to 16 questions, here are a selection:
- What monitoring will be done to ensure that a critical number of people do not end up being denied services they could reasonably expect from HMRC?
- How have you ensured that your actions meet all requirements of your Public Sector Equality Duty?
- How will you ensure that what seem to be ‘non-priority callers’ find what they need online?
- Why have you not given taxpayers more notice?
This week’s announcement should perhaps be unsurprising given HMRC’s track record of making arbitrary decisions to close the self-assessment helpline without giving any notice.