In response to an overwhelming surge in demand during the tax filing season, new changes have been announced to the HMRC phone services for agents and accountants, specifically those related to self-assessment repayments.
The sudden shift, occurring just a week after the closure of the public helpline, has raised concerns about the reliability of all phone services, including the Agent Dedicated Line (ADL). While this adjustment is anticipated to be temporary to manage the peak filing period, it prompts questions about the resilience of HMRC's phone services.
Temporary Shift in Service Focus
HMRC, in an email sent to accountants and agents, disclosed that it would no longer handle calls regarding self-assessment filing, payments, and repayments for the 2022 to 2023 tax year due to exceptional demand.
Starting from December 22, 2023, ADL progress chasing queries for SA repayments will be directed to the digital 'Where’s my reply' tool. During this period, advisers on the ADL will not take progress chasing calls or web chats for SA repayments, redirecting agents to available online tools.
Urging Agents to Opt for Online Channels
With a significant portion of high demand in the HMRC phone services expected to be unavailable for at least seven weeks, HMRC encourages agents to use online services and webchat for query resolution. The tax authority requests agents' cooperation, urging them not to use multiple contact channels simultaneously for the same query during this busy season.
This announcement aligns with previously confirmed changes to the self-assessment (SA) helpline and ADL between December 11, 2023, and January 31, 2024. HMRC underscores its commitment to directing available resources on the ADL to support the SA peak, emphasising the use of online tools for straightforward queries. It's noteworthy that the ADL service will not handle any PAYE calls until February, with PAYE webchat available from 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday.
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