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HMRC have announced that they will be focussing the use of its Self-Assessment helpline on priority queries from 11 December 2023 to 31 January 2024.

Taxpayers calling with queries that can be quickly and easily resolved online will be directed to HMRC’s online services from 11 December until the SA deadline on 31 January.

The department’s expert advisers will focus on answering priority SA queries – those that cannot be easily dealt with online – as well as supporting the small minority of taxpayers who require extra support or cannot engage with us digitally.

HMRC monitors all calls to identify people who may need extra help. These callers are passed on to HMRC’s Extra Support Team who are specially trained to deal with vulnerable taxpayers.

The vast majority of SA customers use HMRC’s online services, with more than 97% of taxpayers filing their SA returns online last year, and overall taxpayer satisfaction with these services is at more than 80%.

But around two-thirds of calls to the SA helpline can be resolved far quicker through HMRC’s online services. To make all SA callers aware of the department’s extensive online services, recorded messages supported by SMS texts will be used.

Examples of queries that can be resolved much quicker online include updating personal information, chasing on the progress of a SA registration, ending SA registration, and checking a Unique Taxpayer Reference number.

According to HMRC, they are:

“Transitioning to a digital-first approach, meaning taxpayers can get their queries answered 24/7, without having to wait on the phone or write a letter. It is continuing to improve and expand its online services, increasing their capabilities and ease of use so they become the default option. This includes the HMRC app, which is already used by more than a million people every month.”

In reality, you should not be surprised if your attempts at calling HMRC require prolonged waits or the navigation of confusing auto-select options.

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