Tuesday 19 March 2024

HMRC Doesn't Give a Flying Fuck - Closes Helplines


HMRC has announced permanent cuts to its helpline services. While the department claims these changes are part of modernisation efforts, they raise significant concerns for taxpayers and professionals alike.

1. Self Assessment Phoneline Closure
The decision to permanently close the self assessment phoneline between April and September is a perplexing one. During these crucial months, taxpayers often seek assistance with complex queries related to their self assessment. By directing them solely to online services, HMRC risks leaving many in the lurch. Not everyone is comfortable navigating digital platforms, and the closure of the phoneline may exacerbate confusion and frustration.

2. VAT and PAYE Helpline Cuts
The permanent closure of the VAT helpline is particularly troubling. Businesses rely on this service for timely advice on VAT registration, compliance, and other critical matters. The abruptness of the closure—only five days' notice—shows a lack of consideration for taxpayers and agents. Furthermore, limiting the helpline to just five days a month adds unnecessary pressure during peak filing periods.

Similarly, the PAYE helpline's refusal to handle refund-related calls is baffling. Refunds are a fundamental aspect of tax administration, and taxpayers should be able to seek clarification without hurdles. Redirecting them to online resources may not always suffice, especially when specific scenarios require personalized assistance.

3. Lack of Transparency
HMRC's decision-making process lacks transparency. The inconclusive evaluation of the trial closure of the self assessment helpline during the summer months raises questions. Why make permanent changes without a thorough assessment of their impact? 

Taxpayers deserve clarity on how these decisions were reached and what evidence supports them.

 4. Impact on Accessibility
While HMRC emphasises self-service through online channels, it must recognise that not everyone has equal access. Some taxpayers lack reliable internet connectivity or struggle with digital literacy. The closure of helplines disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, including the elderly and those with limited technological resources.

5. Professional Concerns
Tax professionals, including the ICAEW Senior Technical Manager Caroline Miskin and CIOT President Gary Ashford, have expressed reservations. The VAT helpline closure may lead to high demand, long waiting times, and potential errors. HMRC's ability to provide adequate support is now in question.

Caroline Miskin:

“While HMRC has evaluated the trial to close the self assessment helpline during the summer months, it doesn’t plan to formally review it any further, even though the impact of this move on the accuracy of returns won’t be clear for some time.

Since restricting the self assessment helpline, HMRC has been quick to promote the fact that a record number of taxpayers met the self assessment deadline. However, more people also missed the deadline and some online services require significant improvement.”

CIOT president Gary Ashford: 

“We are deeply dismayed that, so soon after the criticisms levelled at them by the Public Accounts Committee, and in the light of an inconclusive evaluation, HMRC have decided to make these big, permanent cuts to the help they provide to taxpayers. If last year’s announcement of the summer closure of the Self-Assessment helpline was a ‘flashing indicator’ that HMRC can’t cope, today’s announcements are a blinding light.

HMRC’s own evaluation of both the closure of the helpline in summer 2023, and the helpline restrictions during the 2024 self-assessment peak, concluded that it is too early to say if there has been a long-term shift from phone contact to online self-service. Yet HMRC have decided to go ahead anyway."

HMRC's helpline cuts risk alienating taxpayers and undermining the department's core mission—to serve the public effectively. While modernisation is essential, it should not come at the expense of accessibility and quality service. Taxpayers deserve better, and HMRC must reevaluate its approach to helpline services.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. It won't make the slightest bit of difference to the Excom troughers. They'll waltz out through the revolving door with a nice fat pension after doing the government's bidding.

    As far as the agents and general population, well it's just a case of f**k them and let them eat cake.

  2. As a tax agent I am absolutely dismayed at those clowns' decision, what a bunch of absolute fuckwits. Those twats all need to be sacked.

    No wonder this country is in a mess. Thank you, HMRC, you totally unaccountable cunts.

    1. You must be very proud of yourself, coming on here with an incoherent foul-mouthed rant.
      Anyway, as a tax agent surely you don't need HMRC help lines - you know everything already. That's why you get the extra money.

    2. My worry as a professional extends to those who aren't clients and will never be clients because they are unable to afford accountancy services. HMRC has a duty to help every taxpayer to comply, this decision has the opposite. In the current climate many self-employed people are unable to afford to pay the government a chunk of the income they've generated anyway. When they also contend with potholes on the roads, failing GP surgeries, crumbling schools, an invasion of benefit-scrounging immigrants, and paying huge salaries to the scum who facilitate the decline of our once great country like Sir Kier Starmer and Rishi et al, any sensible person might not bother paying tax if they have to jump through so many hoops to file their return.

      Let me repeat: the HMRC staff who make these crass decisions, and who generate nothing for the country, are complete cunts. Sorry for the truth.

    3. Yes, you sound just like the kind of sensitive, caring person who would worry about the less well off, you foul-mouthed pig. What an advert for the accountancy profession.
      And incidentally, Kier Starmer is leader of the opposition so is facilitating nothing.

  3. They won't sack anyone.

    It'll be the 'SCS Shuffle' if anything

    Getting anyone to take personal responsibility in HMRC as about a likely as nailing Ice Cream to a Brick Wall.


    1. Truest thing ever said worked for them 20 years. Most glad to join the horrendous bullying cult. Join or be a target. They always end up turning on each other and screwing each other over. So karma served and deserved

  4. I'm ashamed to work for HMRC, however the anger must be aimed at this government who have deliberately cut funding to the very department that brings the money in?!

  5. Time to move To Dubai.

  6. I will just pay tax for 6 months on, 6 months off, lazy scumbags

  7. Slight change of direction. Bye Jim...


  8. "Sorry to bother you Mr Harra, I've a telephone call for you.. Yes, I know you said that you're unavailable all morning... but you see... It's The Chancellor of the F**KING Exchequer.. and he doesn't sound very happy.. he said that if those phone lines aren't kept open he's going to turn Parliament Square HQ into a f**king Aldi and you'll be working on the checkout.

    Yes ... I'll put him through straight away.."