Relief at HMRC's reversal of helpline closures

HMRC's decision to halt its plans to restrict taxpayer helplines and direct people to online services instead has been met with relief by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

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HMRC's decision to halt its plans to restrict taxpayer helplines and direct people to online services instead has been met with relief by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The tax authority had announced that it was closing its self assessment helpline for six months every year. It was also restricting the opening times of its VAT helpline and the usage of its PAYE helpline.

HMRC says it is halting these plans 'in response to the feedback while it engages with its stakeholders about how to ensure all taxpayers' needs'.

The FSB says that more investment in digital and telephone is needed - not a reduction in service.

Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair, FSB said:

'Small businesses will definitely be relieved that the drastic reduction in HMRC's helpline opening hours has been paused. We are very glad that HMRC has listened to the chorus of dismay which greeted its initial announcement.

'While online services are a key part of the communications mix for the tax authority, sometimes there's just no substitute for a real human on the end of a phone line who can listen, engage, and help untangle issues.

'Before phone line cuts are considered, HMRC needs to build capacity in its digital services, as if those are improved – with real people online to offer help instead of chatbots – many small firms like to interact with the tax authority this way, as it can be more flexible and available out of hours.'

Internet link: GOV.UK FSB website

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