HM Revenue and Customs
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HMRC encourages customers to interact online with changes to its Self Assessment, PAYE and VAT services

Changes to helpline services will become a permanent feature after being successfully trialled.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is today announcing changes to its services as it continues encouraging customers to get the information they need and carry out their transactions online wherever possible.

Changes to helpline services to encourage people to go online first have been successfully trialled over the last year and are being rolled out to become a permanent feature of the way HMRC supports customers from 8 April 2024.

The changes are:

  • between April and September, the Self Assessment helpline will be closed and customers will be directed to self-serve through HMRC’s highly-rated online services
  • between October and March the Self Assessment helpline will be open to deal with priority queries – customers with queries that can be quickly and easily resolved online will be directed to HMRC’s online services
  • the VAT helpline will be open for 5 days every month ahead of the deadline for filing VAT returns – outside of this time, customers will be directed to use HMRC’s online services
  • the PAYE helpline will no longer take calls from customers relating to refunds – customers will be directed to use HMRC’s online services
  • HMRC advisers will continue to always be available during normal office opening hours to support customers who cannot use online services or who have health or personal circumstances that mean they need extra support
  • all other helplines will continue to operate as they do currently

The move to online self-service for Self Assessment and VAT is a vital element of HMRC’s modernisation of the tax system, allowing more customers to self-serve and access the information they need more quickly and easily by going online or to the HMRC app, which is available 24/7. There will also always be support available for those who cannot use online services.

The Chancellor set out in his Autumn Statement how the government must get the most out of every pound of taxpayers’ money by boosting productivity. Utilising online services allows HMRC to be more productive over time, delivering services customers deserve without growing the state unsustainably.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Second Permanent Secretary and Deputy Chief Executive, said:  

Online services have transformed our lives and often provide a better service for managing tax – they’re quicker, easier and always available.

Changing our services to encourage customers to self-serve online wherever possible will allow our helpline advisers to focus support where it is most needed - helping those with complex tax queries and those who are vulnerable and need extra support.

We must maximise every pound of taxpayers‘ money. Embracing online self-service allows us to help more customers and improve our customer service levels without spending additional public money.

The move follows the successful seasonal pilot where calls to the Self Assessment helpline were directed to the department’s online services, including its online guidance, digital assistant and webchat. After a brief initial spike in calls when the helpline reopened, calls quickly returned to expected levels.

During the December and January Self Assessment peak period, another trial saw HMRC take only priority calls on its Self Assessment helpline, with other enquiries directed to its online services. The changes enabled HMRC to help more customers and did not impact on customers’ ability to file or pay on time – with a record 11.5 million filing their return by 31 January 2024. 

Self Assessment customers have 10 months to file their tax return and over 97% file online. Those using HMRC’s online services rate them highly, with over 80% satisfaction ratings. The HMRC app is used by 1.2 million customers each month and has a 4.8 out of 5 rating on the Apple App Store.

As with the Self Assessment trials, the impact of these changes to Self Assessment, VAT and PAYE helplines will be monitored and reviewed. This will allow HMRC’s staff to be moved to where they are most needed throughout the year and to enable the department to better react to peaks in demand to provide a more consistent service. 

Last year HMRC received more than three million calls on queries that can easily and simply be done online - resetting an online password, getting your tax code and finding your National Insurance number. That’s the equivalent of 500 people working full time to answer just those calls.

HMRC’s online guidance includes written guidance, recorded webinars, You Tube videos and a Digital Assistant. These can answer most customer queries, and if they do not, customers have access to HMRC advisers online, through webchat.

Customers whose query is not dealt with by our online guidance will have access to an HMRC adviser through webchat. Customers who are unable to access online services or otherwise have health or personal reasons for needing extra support will be supported all year round by our existing extra support teams.


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