HMRC is restoring priority access to the ADL from Monday 14 June 2021 and committed to call waiting times of less than 10 minutes. However, the ADL will not handle certain types of calls where digital alternatives are available.
Following lengthy discussions with professional bodies including ICAEW, HMRC has now agreed to restore priority access to the agent dedicated line (ADL), starting on Monday 14 June, initially on a trial basis. HMRC has confirmed it is expecting to answer all calls to the ADL within 10 minutes.
ICAEW’s Tax Faculty welcomes this positive development even though it falls short of restoring the pre-pandemic position and encourages members to play their part by adhering to HMRC’s guidance on the use of the line.
The removal of priority access from the ADL at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, along with delays across most HMRC services and the additional demands from clients has had a major impact on agents.
HMRC’s central role in the government’s response to COVID-19 has been resource intensive and has had implications for its day-to-day operations. HMRC acknowledges that it has not been able to provide the level of service that it would like.
How to use the line
The ADL will be open from 08:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday. ICAEW is aware that agents have become accustomed to phoning as soon as the helpline opens as that has been the best time to get a call answered, HMRC has asked that calls be spread during the day to help it to manage demand.
To allow HMRC to provide priority access to agents it has listed the types of call that it will not accept on the ADL, because a digital service is available or the client has access to the information.
Agents are expected to use the following digital services rather than phoning the ADL:
- Progress chasing – agents should use HMRC’s Where's My Reply? tool. HMRC has recently done some work to make the tool more reliable. It currently covers PAYE and self assessment and HMRC is hoping to extend it to other taxes. Agents can contact the helpline if the expected reply date has passed.
- Report a phishing email, phone call or text.
- Report a death.
- Obtain an SA302 (to support a mortgage application).
Agents are expected to obtain pay and tax details and employment histories from their clients and HMRC is encouraging the use of the personal tax account where clients can obtain this information. This has been HMRC’s position since 2017; over time more HMRC staff have been prepared to provide these details over the phone but HMRC will be tightening up on this.
This approach is partly driven by GDPR considerations as HMRC has some concerns over whether 64-8s allow it to disclose this information directly to agents. Where necessary HMRC will send the information to the client by post. HMRC is developing a service to give agents access to this information, along with details of tax codes.
Agent income record service
The agent income record viewer service is still in private beta testing and so is limited to a small number of agents. HMRC is now extending the service to a further 200 agents. If you would like to be part of this trial, please contact Denise Beat via firstname.lastname@example.org.
The service involves a one-off digital handshake which needs to be completed by the client so is not suitable for all clients.
HMRC hopes to be able to extend the agent income record viewer service to all agents in the future and is also working on more streamlined agent authorisation processes.
ICAEW is pressing HMRC to address the issues with the self assessment pre-population service which is also important in addressing this need.
Other service improvements
HMRC has also indicated that it is working on the use of scanning technology to improve the processing of R40 (Claim for repayment of tax deducted from savings and investments) for PPI interest taxed at source and other high demand forms.
It is about time that HMRC reopened the ADL, but it is not great that they are doing so in a half arsed manner!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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