HMRC says taxpayers should “help themselves” by using online services

  • HMRC said its telephone and postal services remained “below service standards”.
  • But she urged more taxpayers to “help themselves” and get online

HMRC has admitted that its customer service levels for taxpayers who use telephone or post to reach it remain “below service standards”.

HMRC said the increase in the number of taxpayers, and a higher proportion of people with complex inquiries, had affected postal and telephone services.

In the 2022 to 2023 tax year, HMRC said it improved the proportion of correspondence it turned in 15 days to 72.7 per cent, compared to 45.5 per cent the previous year.

In its latest performance update, HMRC said more taxpayers could “help themselves” by using its online services.

Below standard: HM Revenue & Customs said its telephone and postal services remained below standard

Below standard: HM Revenue & Customs said its telephone and postal services remained below standard

The proportion of callers wanting to speak to an HMRC adviser by phone who were able to do so was on average 71.4 per cent between October and December 2023.

While HMRC admitted it needed to do more to improve its telephone and postal services, it said there was “more scope for our customers to help themselves” using its online services.

“The more than 3 million phone calls we received in 2022-23 were about just three things that can easily be done online: resetting your password, getting your PAYE tax code and finding your National Insurance number,” she said. It takes the equivalent of 500 consultants to answer those calls.

“This means that those people who really need to speak to an HMRC adviser – including those with complex queries, the digitally excluded and particularly vulnerable – could struggle to get the help they need.”

“The only way we can meet these service levels for customers who really need to talk to us, is by continuing to improve and expand our digital and online services and continuing to get more people using them.”

HMRC aims to reduce the volume of telephone and postal contact by taxpayers by 30 per cent by the end of 2025, against levels expected by the end of 2022.

In the financial year 2022 to 2023, HMRC collected tax worth £788.8 billion, representing a 10.2 per cent increase on the previous year.

HMRC said the taxpayer money was “spent by the government on schools, the NHS, police and other essential services on which we all depend”.

HMRC claimed that its compliance work secured £34 billion in tax revenue during this period, which the Treasury would have lost through error, fraud and other forms of non-compliance.

“We focus on providing a modern and efficient service that makes it easier to pay taxes and makes it difficult to make mistakes,” she added.

“This means improving guidance, enhancing and expanding our digital services – online via Gov.uk and through the app – to give clients the quick and easy ways to manage their tax affairs they have come to expect.”

According to HMRC, between January and December 2023, there were 80 million logins to the HMRC app by 3.3 million unique users, representing a login growth rate of more than 70 per cent compared to the previous year.

It claimed that “digital assistant interactions” increased from 1.9 million in 2022 to 2023 to 4.8 million so far in 2023 to 2024.

This Is Money has been charting the problems of taxpayers struggling to contact HMRC or facing huge unexpected tax bills.

Service levels have declined sharply during the pandemic.

A Public Accounts Committee report published last year found that mail and call handling had fallen dramatically during the pandemic.

In 2021-22, HMRC responded to 39.5 per cent of submissions within 15 days, compared to 70.3 per cent the previous year.

(Signs for translation) Daily mail

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