On Friday, HMRC announced that they will be closing the telephone helpline for taxpayers with self-assessment problems for three months starting 13th June and reopening on 4th September. The helpline is the first port of call for many taxpayers in answering any queries relating to their self-assessment tax returns. The sudden closure decision had no consultation with taxpayers nor with advisors and has been met with wide-spread criticism across the accounting sector.
Rather than phoning HMRC, taxpayers are being encouraged to use the digital services on offer including the personal tax account, HMRC app and webchats.
HMRC have given two main reasons behind the decision. Firstly, it will free up some 350 staff to deal with queries in other areas. Secondly, they explained that they receive 50% more calls in January to April compared with June to August and therefore the resources are better used elsewhere during the summer period.
This change to normal service is a trial and only relates to the self-assessment helpline, other helplines will continue to operate as usual. We have had confirmation that the agent helpline will remain in operation therefore it is possible for advisors to speak with HMRC on a taxpayers behalf where digital services cannot resolve an issue and a phone call is required.
Self-Assessment Threshold Change
Another recent change announced relates to the criteria for self-assessment tax returns. Previously, where an individual earned income over £100,000, they were required to submit a tax return each year regardless of whether they met any other criteria i.e. they received untaxed income. From 6th April 2023, this threshold has been raised to £150,000 meaning that a number of taxpayers who have been completing returns will drop out of the system and may not be subject to the new reporting requirements.
HMRC have advised that they will automatically send out exit letters to taxpayers who submit a 2022/23 tax return with income between £100,000 and £150,000 to confirm whether they will be required to submit further returns.
We would advise anyone that receives such a letter to contact their tax advisor in the first instance to confirm whether it is correct for them to be removed from self-assessment as there will be some circumstances where they should continue filing each year. As this comes into effect for the 2023/24 tax year, taxpayers should continue to file their 2022/23 return as normal unless advised otherwise.
If you would have any concerns regarding the closure of the self-assessment helpline or need assistance either with the digital services or contacting HMRC, please speak your usual personal tax contact at the firm.
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